09/15/12 4:45 PM ET
Adjustments have keyed Harper's hot stretch
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
Harper, for his part, isn't getting too amped up about how he's feeling at the plate.
"I don't know. I think I'm just trying to get some pitches, trying to swing and then just put something in play," Harper said Friday. "That's all I can do. Just going up there trying to have good ABs."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson, meanwhile, said Harper has made all the necessary adjustments following a month-long slump during which he hit .171/.257/.244.
"Just being able to control his overaggressiveness and make adjustments a little bit. He's probably never had to make adjustments," Johnson said. "But here, everybody since Day 1 has been respecting his ability and tried everything. ... They've tried to pitch him harder than anybody.
"He hit them good early, then he went overaggressive chasing them."
Johnson said Harper expanded his zone during that slump, and his overly aggressive nature and desire to get back on track probably caused him to chase more pitches than he should have. On top of all that, pitchers were making it a priority to get him out. The biggest difference Johnson has noticed -- and he says it's the mark of a great hitter -- is that Harper now has a better idea of how pitchers are going to attack him.
"He's been very patient in not chasing out of the zone. A lot better," Johnson said. "That's when he went in that month-long slump, but he kept fighting it because he wanted to make something happen. Then he learned, OK, get a good pitch, get something to drive. He can hit anything."
After spectacular catch, Bernadina 'a little stiff'
ATLANTA -- Roger Bernadina put his flair for the dramatic catch on display once again Friday night at Turner Field, making an outstanding grab to rob Jason Heyward of extra bases while slamming his body hard off the left-field wall.
Bernadina reported back to Turner Field on Saturday with "a little stiff neck," according to manager Davey Johnson, but Bernadina could still play off the bench if necessary.
"It was a great catch," said Bryce Harper, who saw it unfold from center field. "All the people yelling and screaming at him and things like that, keeping his composure and being able to catch that ball was pretty impressive."
Bernadina said after Friday's game that he would be fine, and he wasn't even concerned about injuring himself when he left his feet to make the play. He went down to the grass on his knee after making the play, prompting a visit from the trainer and Johnson.
"You just go about the game. It didn't feel good, but I focused on the game," Bernadina said. "That moment, I'm so focused on the game, you don't pay attention to it."
The Nats were behind, 1-0, at that point in the fifth inning, and Atlanta had a runner at first who could have scored had Heyward's line drive bounced off the wall. Still, Bernadina knew he was going to hit the wall -- and hit it hard, given the way he was running toward it -- but didn't allow himself to think about it.
"You just go on instinct. I know I was pretty close," Bernadina said. "The only play I could make was to jump to get it. I had to keep us in the game."
Transition to pinch-hitting smooth for Nats' Moore
ATLANTA -- Tyler Moore will be in the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Braves and left-hander Mike Minor, but it's hard to find much fault with how he's handled the transition from everyday player to pinch-hitter.
Moore has hit .286/.342/.543 as a substitute this season, compared to .276/.339/.524 as a starter, and he's slugging .560 as a pinch-hitter. Much of that success can be attributed to his short, simple swing, manager Davey Johnson said Saturday.
There aren't many moving parts in the rookie's mechanics. That gives him a quick path to the ball, more time to see pitches and a little more wiggle room if his timing isn't where it should be. Someone with a longer swing, that's completely dependent on timing wouldn't have that luxury.
"He's got a great stroke. He's got a great approach," Johnson said of Moore. "The one thing that he's learned to do, I think, in a really short time, which all the young guys have learned to do, is make adjustments to be successful. He was a little cautious early on, pinch-hitting and not having regular playing time.
"Your habits when you're playing regularly, you can take more pitches and do things, and he's made the adjustment knowing that he needs to be a little more aggressive early. He's done that really well instead of going up and taking pitches. For a really young guy coming off the bench, he's been outstanding."
As expected, Michael Morse was out of the lineup and unavailable again Saturday due to a left wrist injury. Johnson said Friday that Morse would likely miss the entire series in Atlanta and added Saturday that doctors have said Morse can't further injure his wrist by playing. It's simply a matter of pain tolerance at this point for Morse.
Johnson cracked that Steve Lombardozzi got the start in left field Saturday against Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson because, "Lombo's got 50 percent of his home runs off this guy." The numbers don't lie: Lombardozzi has hit two homers this season, and one of them came off Hanson.
Entering Sunday, Washington led the National League and ranked third in the Majors with 82 second-half homers.