CHICAGO -- With the waiver acquisition of outfielder David DeJesus from the Cubs on Monday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo signaled that he is still hoping his club can make a late playoff push despite being 9 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second and final Wild Card spot entering the series opener at Wrigley Field.
"I like the fact that we've got 40 games left, and right now my focus is on [Jeff] Samardzija and the Cubs tonight," Rizzo said before the Nationals' series opener against the Cubs.
"We're going to take this thing one game at a time, but I certainly haven't given up on this season, and I think that with the talent level we have on this ballclub that we still have a run left in us."
Bernadina's struggles gave Nats reason to cut ties
CHICAGO -- Roger Bernadina had a solid 2012 campaign for the Nationals, hitting .291 with a .372 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases in 129 games. But following a poor performance in 85 games for the club in 2013, he was released Monday to make room for newly acquired outfielder David DeJesus.
The outfielder, nicknamed "The Shark," hit just .178 (27-for-152) this season.
"I'm sorry to see Bernadina go," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He had such a great career here for the Nationals, and I'm sure he'll land on his feet somewhere."
Johnson said that part of the reason Bernadina struggled so mightily this season may have been the lack of regular at-bats early on.
"He's still kind of a young player," said Johnson. "And any time you don't have the opportunity to come out of Spring Training and get some at-bats early to get something going positive early, it's a lot more difficult for a younger player to sit around for a week and maybe lose his timing, and then get in and perform."
"Roger just struggled mightily this year and could never get it going," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "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."
Harper gets first look at historic Wrigley Field
CHICAGO -- Bryce Harper tweeted Sunday that he was excited to be going to Chicago to play his first career game at Wrigley Field.
Harper's tweet read:
"First time in Chicago and at Wrigley! I can't wait to see the ivy and just be in such an historic place! #blessed #cubsvsnats"
"It's unbelievable," Harper said before the Nationals' series opener against the Cubs. "To be able to be in a ballpark with so much history and being able to play in Wrigley for the first time, and seeing the Wrigley Field sign outside, and the ivy for the first time.
"Just being in such a great ballpark, and it's such a great fan base, being able to see the bleacher fans for the first time, there are so many things I'm looking forward to. I'm very excited to play tonight."
Harper hadn't yet been in the big leagues last season when the Nats opened the season with three games against the Cubs at Wrigley from April 5-8. Harper debuted on April 28, 2012, and went on to hit .270 with 22 homers and 59 RBIs on the way to winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
• Coming into Monday's series opener with the Cubs, Ian Desmond led all Major League shortstops with 52 extra-base hits (33 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs). No other big league shortstop had more than 41 extra-base hits.
• Entering play Monday, the Nationals were 54-15 (.783) when they scored at least three runs in a game this season. When scoring fewer than three runs, they were just 6-48 (.111).
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.