Sep 2, 2013, 6:33 PM EDT
PHILADELPHIA — Roger Bernadina never wanted to leave the Nationals, the organization that signed him as a teenager and retained him for 12 years. But the outfielder understood why Washington released him two weeks ago and has embraced his new affiliation with the Phillies.
“Of course you want to be in the organization. Of course I wanted to be there as long as I can,” Bernadina said Monday before facing his former team for the first time. “I didn’t do whatever I needed to do, and now I’m here getting a new opportunity to show them.”
Signed by then-Expos general manager Jim Beattie as a 17-year-old in 2001, Bernadina had been the longest-tenured member of the Nationals organization, developing into a key member of last season’s NL East championship squad when he hit a career-best .291 while regularly making highlight-reel plays in the outfield.
But Bernadina, who missed nearly all of spring training while playing for his native Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, got off to a rocky start this season and never found his stroke. He hit .178 with a .247 on-base percentage and .270 slugging percentage in 85 games, then started wasting away on manager Davey Johnson’s bench.
Over his final 41 games in a Nationals uniform, Bernadina received only 20 plate appearances.
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