Updated at 3:18 p.m.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Michael Morse was a late scratch from the Nationals' lineup for today's spring training game against the Braves due to a lat strain that had been bothering him for several days, but the cleanup hitter doesn't believe he'll be out more than a day or two.
The club officially said Morse's status is "day-to-day," and the left fielder backed up that sentiment when describing the injury. Asked if he's worried at all, he replied: "No, I'm not, and I get worried. It's early and there's plenty of time to get it going. I can still hit, I can still run, I just can't throw. I'll be fine hitting."
Even if the injury isn't serious, it wouldn't be surprising if Morse misses several days because manager Davey Johnson tends to be overly cautious with all of players when dealing with minor tweaks and scrapes.
Morse's strain is to the right latissimus dorsi, the muscle that stretches from the upper back to underneath the armpit. It's a common injury among ballplayers, especially pitchers, and it can easily be tweaked from swinging a bat.
He said he first noticed a problem a couple days ago when his back felt "kind of tight." He served as the Nationals' DH on Sunday and wasn't hindered at all. He was scheduled to start in left field this afternoon but still felt tightness when he was playing catch before batting practice, so he alerted the club's training staff.
"There's no reason to push it this early," he said. "It's just something that needed a little break, a little rest, probably a little overworked or something."
Morse said the injury is "underneath my shoulder blades, it just feels like a little knot." There's no rehab for him to perform, just rest himself and ice the area.
With Morse sidelined for at least the day, the Nationals had to reshuffle their lineup. Veteran Chad Tracy, scheduled to DH, was been bumped up to the cleanup spot. Brett Carroll, batting ninth, shifted from right field to Morse's spot in left field. And rookie Bryce Harper came off the bench to start in right field and bat seventh.
This represented the fourth time in five days Harper has been in the Nationals' lineup starting in right field. The 19-year-old entered the day 4-for-7 with a walk so far in Grapefruit League play.