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Bernadina dealing with stiff neck

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Bernadina dealing with stiff neck

ATLANTA -- Roger Bernadina is dealing with a stiff neck one day after slamming into the left field wall to make a catch during the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Braves and is not in manager Davey Johnson's starting lineup for the second game of this series.

"He's got a little stiff neck," Johnson said. "But he could play."

Bernadina initially appeared to hurt his right shoulder or collarbone after he robbed Jason Heyward of extra bases in the fifth inning. Johnson and a trainer went out to check on him, but Bernadina stayed in the game and played the rest of the way without appearing to suffer any lingering effects.

Afterward, Bernadina insisted he could play.

"In that moment, I didn't think about it," he said. "It should be fine."

With Bernadina banged up and Michael Morse already out until at least Tuesday with a left wrist injury, the Nationals today are turning to utilityman Steve Lombardozzi as their starting left fielder.

Johnson's reason for starting Lombardozzi against Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson?

"Lombo's got 50 percent of his home runs off this guy, so..." the manager joked. (Lombardozzi has only two homers all season.)

Johnson said he plans to start Tyler Moore for tomorrow night's series finale, with left-hander Mike Minor on the mound for Atlanta.

Morse, meanwhile, did not participate in any baseball activities for the fourth straight day, trying to give his wrist (which has a bone bruise and a torn sheath) time to heal before he attempts to return to the field.

The Nationals are hoping their No. 5 hitter will be able to take batting practice on Tuesday and perhaps play that night against the Dodgers.

"He's still sore," Johnson said. "With a little tear of that sheath ... I don't think, according to the doctors, it's something that playing is going to make it any worse."

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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

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Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

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