The Washington Nationals released outfielder Roger Bernadina on August 19. The move came on the heels of Washington's acquisition of Chicago Cubs utility outfielder David DeJesus, according to James Wagner of The Washington Post.
Bernadina had played his entire six-year career in Washington. But based on this season's performance, it seemed like only a matter of time before the team released the Curacao native.
During the 2013 season, Bernadina played in 85 games, batting .178 in 152 at-bats with six doubles, one triple, and two home runs, while driving in six runs and scoring 18. He swiped three bags in three attempts, but had an OPS of .517. As a pinch hitter, Bernadina was 5-for-24 with one RBI and a pinch hit leverage index of 0.89, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo justified the move in talking to Manny Randhawa of MLB.com:
Roger just struggled mightily this year and could never get it going. Mechanically, he never got himself righted. He's a guy with an abundance of tools and skills, and really hit within himself last year and utilized his speed and line drives and that sort of thing. He just could never get on track this year, and it was something we were waiting for throughout the season, and it just didn't happen.
The 2013 season was an even bigger disappointment for Bernadina when considering the career year he had last season.
In 2012, he hit .291 in 227 at-bats over 129 games, hitting 11 doubles and five home runs with 25 RBI and 25 runs scored. Bernadina stole 15 bases in 18 attempts, and had an OPS of .777. He went 8-for-33 as a pinch hitter with one RBI and a pinch hit leverage index of 1.33, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The 29-year-old Bernadina was beginning to fulfill his immense potential while excelling in spot starts and the pinch hitter role.
But Bernadina could not repeat his success from last season. He attempted to explain his struggles to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post on May 3:
It’s hard to work at something when you’re not playing. I have to do whatever I have to do to get on base and help the team. Right now, it’s a tough situation...Now, it’s much different. I’m not seeing much playing time at all. Of course, it’s tough. I haven’t got much playing time out there. We’ll see how that goes. It’s just a matter of time.
The underperforming Bernadina eventually ran out of time. The Nationals had to let him go.
Despite the inevitability of the act, the release of Roger Bernadina is still a painful moment in the history of the Washington Nationals. He will be sorely missed.
The affable Bernadina was a fan favorite.
He boasted perhaps the oddest nickname in all of baseball, when considering how he became The Shark, and the goofy headgear that fans wore to honor the nickname.
Tyler Stoltenberg, one of the two super fans that gave Bernadina his menacing moniker, told Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post on June 30, 2011 that "we had the costumes, but it’s really because the way he hunts down fly balls looks like a shark hunting his prey.” There's even a website that pays homage to Sharkadina.
Plus, Bernadina is fun to watch, as he owns all five tools that a position player can possess. He didn't take all five tools out of the shed on a regular basis, but it was a sight to see when showed off each one.
Bernadina flashed his ability to hit for power this season during an interleague series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun tweeted out the significance of Bernadina's display of power on May 29:
Encina (@EddieInTheYard) May 29, 2013
But the most notable of his five tools is his ability to run down balls in the outfield, thus inspiring his nickname. The best example of his amazing ability came on August 7, 2012, while playing the Houston Astros in Houston. I'll let the video do the talking:
Above all else, the parting of ways with this talented outfielder will be painful for the Nationals because Bernadina is a connection to the past.
Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com tweeted the following fact after Bernadina's release:
Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 19, 2013
Bernadina is a link to the proud roots of this franchise. The severing of another tie to the Montreal Expos should not be met with mere indifference. As a result, Nats fans should further embrace Ian Desmond, who now becomes the last Nationals player drafted by the Montreal Expos.
Washington baseball fans should cherish the connections to their ancestral baseball club.
If not for the Montreal Expos, Washington baseball fans would only have memories of a baseball team.
If it wasn't for the Montreal Expos, Washington baseball fans would not have memories of Roger Bernadina.
Best of luck, Roger. Nationals fans will miss you.
But can you please not sign with the Philadelphia Phillies?
Note: All statistics updated through August 20 courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.