Thursday, April 12, 2012

Morse shut down at least 6 weeks

Michael Morse will be in "total shutdown mode" for six weeks after aggravating the injury to his right lat muscle while playing in a minor-league rehab game earlier this week, leaving the Nationals without their cleanup hitter for quite some time.

General manager Mike Rizzo said Morse re-injured himself while trying to make throws from left field during a game Monday night with low-Class A Hagerstown. His swing is not affected by the injury at all, but doctors have instructed Morse to refrain from all activities for the next six weeks, hoping the rest will allow the lat to completely heal at last.

There is no surgical remedy for the injury, according to Rizzo, only rest and treatment.

"We tried to ramp him up, get him ready as quickly as we could, because he's a big piece of our lineup," Rizzo said. "And he just re-aggravated it. So we're going to have to be ultra-cautious and make sure he's right for the majority of the season."

The Nationals aren't setting a specific timetable for Morse to return to the big-league lineup, but he'll still need time to get back into baseball shape and play in more minor-league games after he endures through the six-week rest period. That would appear to push back his return until at least mid-June, if not later.

This setback comes only a few days after the Nationals were convinced Morse would be ready to come off the disabled list and re-assume his spot in the heart of their lineup for today's home opener against the Reds.

But while attempting to play a full game with Hagerstown on Monday, Morse continued to feel pain in his right shoulder and back and was unable to even throw the ball from his spot in left field to second base. He doesn't feel any pain when he swings, and in four total rehab games with Hagerstown and Class AA Harrisburg went 5-for-12 with two doubles and a home run.

"He swings extremely well," Rizzo said. "He continues feeling pain-free when he swings the bat. But this is the National League, and you have to play both sides of the ball. Until he's ready to do all facets of the game, we can't re-institute him in the lineup."

Though they'll obviously suffer from the lack of last season's club leader in homers (31), RBI (95) and batting average (.303), the Nationals feel comfortable with their in-house replacements for Morse. Manager Davey Johnson has so far used veterans Mark DeRosa and Xavier Nady in left field, and Roger Bernadina could also figure into the mix once center fielder Rick Ankiel returns from a quad strain as expected on Saturday.

That said, Rizzo acknowledged he would explore alternatives from outside the organization.

"If there's a viable option to get another guy who fits what we're trying to do this year and for the long-term, we're always open to that," the GM said. "But we like the options we have here. We've got a guy at Syracuse who's an option for us. So we feel good about where we're at."

That "guy at Syracuse" is top prospect Bryce Harper, who is hitting .261 with a double and a triple in his first six games at Class AAA. Rizzo, though, stressed he won't promote the 19-year-old outfielder before he's proven he's ready to make the leap.

"We've got a plan for him, and when he's ready to come up we'll certainly think about that," Rizzo said. "But this injury, we've got in-house candidates we feel comfortable with. It doesn't change where we're at with Bryce's timetable."

32 comments:

Nats fan in NJ said...

Mark - Appreciate the updates on Morse and Rendon (via twitter). What's the story with Goodwin?

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the update, Mark. Heal up, MM, and we'll hope to see you at the park at some point.

Sec314 said...

Although he only played RF for a few games in 2010, it was enough for him to be placed under the curse of Jose Guillen (See, Kearns, Austin; Werth, Jayson)

CN said...

Rest up, Morse.

I think it's very possible Harper makes an appearance before Morse does this season, especially with all the injuries this team has.

I originally thought the Super 2 deadline would drive Harper's debut, but if the team continues to get inconsistent offense from the OF, then Harper in 3 wks might make sense

mick said...

this cant suck enough

mick said...

should have signed fielder

mick said...

unless someone steps up... we will foolishly bring up Harper too early... we will lose a ton of 1 run games, H Rod will blow a ton of games and Lidge will be over worked. then... in July we will be talking about 2013... this is so typical of dc sports

Gonat said...

That is actually better news than expected. Back by Memorial Day.

mick said...

and of course some other quality player will get injured, the curse continues.....

Nats in Athens said...

Can't understand why we did not go all out to sign Cespedes. Even the fact that it would have allowed to give more seasoning to Harper would have made it worthwhile.
We are left to hope that the medical staff shapes up and what we are told is at least partially on the spot.

Wally said...

I wonder what this means for his return to the lineup. If it is six weeks of nothing, then assuming best case that everything is healed, he'll need another 4-6 weeks of baseball activities, right? So, best case looks like after the ASB?

Glad to see Rizzo acknowledging the need to look into replacing the bat. Would hate to waste the pitching this season, especially since next year, our depth may be worse if we don't re-sign EJax & Wang, and let Lannan walk.

Mick said...

also, how long will it take Morse to get back in the groove

why not sign an Upton or a Cespedes if not a Fielder. This medical staff SUCKS!!!

A DC Wonk said...

Mick said...

This medical staff SUCKS!!!


OK, Doctor. What should they have done different in this case?

unless someone steps up... we will foolishly bring up Harper too early... we will lose a ton of 1 run games, H Rod will blow a ton of games and Lidge will be over worked.

Hey, Carnac, did you notice which team currently has +10 in run differential and, overall, is third in team BA?

Davey will not overwork his pitchers -- he's too smart for that.

fpcsteve said...

Wow, .261 (at the moment) has Harper on track for Washington in the short run? That falls short of Rizzo's "dominate each level" advancement plan. C. Brown, on the other hand, is doing quite well.

David said...

Are we sure Rizzo didn't mean Corey Brown as his "guy" in Syracuse? Davey raved about Brown, as did Werth...

Will said...

Wally, 4-6 weeks of baseball activities sounds far too long. Most guys returning from injuries take less than that, right? A week of getting back into shape, then a 4 days in the minors rehabbing, right? So about 10 days of baseball activities.

mick said...

dc wonk... obviously there is a problem with off season conditioning when your top players keep getting injured... maybe get in a more in tune personal training staff so Dr Andrews is rarely or ever used.

We also lead the league in runners left on base!

Davey will have no choice but to over wok his bull pen because I think H Rod is bust!!

psp8517 said...

.261 in less than two weeks is not a sign of Harper's readiness. If his BA is .261 after 100 ABs, then he's not ready. This is not the year, merely a prelude to what's coming. Settle down Nats Nation

Wally said...

Will - I agree generally, but I added a little more time because he has also missed essentially all of ST, so it may take longer.

But Mark has since added best case mid June too, so I'll defer to you guys. So I get a 2 months best case, who knows worst case (although 4 months seems like a realistic worst case for this kind of injury, not a lost season).


Still, my takeaway is the same: too long to go without replacing Morse's bat and still hope for contention this year. Would hope that Rizzo can find something that works.

A DC Wonk said...

mick said...

dc wonk... obviously there is a problem with off season conditioning when your top players keep getting injured...


Top players keep getting injured on every team. Further, if off season conditioning is the main problem (and I don't know that it is) that's the players' fault, not the medical staff.

Let's see, let's pick another team at random. Say, the Reds, because that's who we're playing today. They have Ryan Madson out for the season, and Nick Massett, two-time-all start Brandon Philips, and Jordan Smith on the DL now.

Davey will have no choice but to over wok his bull pen because I think H Rod is bust!!

HRod is not a bust, and Davey will not over work his bullpen. He's got some good long-men there. Or haven't you noticed the depth of the bullpen?

UnkyD said...

Somebody get a dixiecup of KookAid to Mick, and hook a bungee on the back of his belt, before he jumps!!!

This is Brown's opportunity. If he rakes for two more weeks, make him the starter, in CF. Time to fish, or cut bait, because if he doesn't make a case, on the big club, for consideration as a starter next year, he'll no longer be a prospect. I'm loving the guy...

Anonymous said...

A lot of managers on this site. Morse will not be back by Memorial Day, good job counting to 6 though. That's just the earliest he could possibly resuem "baseball activities." In other words, rehabbing in the minors - and we all saw how that just went.

Harper will not be up anytime soon as long as he's hitting .260 in AAA. It'll be July for him (and Morse) if we're lucky.

UnkyD said...

And I'll just pat Rizzo on the back, for NOT giving Mikey a longer extension. I love him, but while he's not quite Nick, there's no denying the injury issues...

rarumberger said...

Wally, look at it this way: it was insanely optimistic to count on being in the playoffs this year. It just was. We needed absolutely everything to go right. Everything hasn't gone right, and yet we're still off to a great start. Personally, I think we'll be fine without Morse for a few weeks.

We're not unusually injury-prone, either, despite what the chicken littles are saying.

Last year, Philly lost Oswalt, Utley, and Rollins for long stretches, and this year they're without Utley and Howard. Utley may NEVER come back. Atlanta's entire rotation is a mess, Heyward looks like his career might be spent on the DL, and Chipper has already had one surgery this season. The Mets went without Johan Santana for well over a year, and now they're without David Wright for a while. The Marlins lost Josh Johnson for a year, Giancarlo Stanton is having trouble staying healthy right now, and Reyes and Ramirez are always one papercut away from coming out of any game.

A DC Wonk said...

Wally, look at it this way: it was insanely optimistic to count on being in the playoffs this year. It just was. We needed absolutely everything to go right. Everything hasn't gone right, and yet we're still off to a great start.

I'm not sure exactly what you're saying . . . but I don't think it was overly optimistic to think that the Nats would be in the playoff hunt until the end.

And, in any event, some the things that we were hoping to go right, might very well be coming to fruition. Most notably, imho, were the questions of: (a) can HRod harness his control? and (b) can Lidge return to anywhere near his former greatness; (c) is Roche going to be worth anything?

There's no lock, of course, but I am feeling optimistic on those three questions.

SCNatsFan said...

I agree that all the chips had to fall perfectly for us to be the team we hoped and clearly that isn't going to happen. Lamenting the things we didn't do - sign Fielder, trade Dunn, etc. - does nothing to change the fact that if Morse is healthy we have plenty of players and bats. Clearly our big bats have to deliver and we need someone - a Nady,Shark, Brown or Ankiel - to be a surprise or there will be difficulty scoring runs. Adding a Damon or similar won't give us an upgrade over what is here (and I know Damon is headed to Detriot). If anything it might move the timetable up for Harper, give Brown a chance of push Lannan out the door.

Gonat said...

mick said...
dc wonk... obviously there is a problem with off season conditioning when your top players keep getting injured... maybe get in a more in tune personal training staff so Dr Andrews is rarely or ever used.

We also lead the league in runners left on base!

Davey will have no choice but to over wok his bull pen because I think H Rod is bust!!

April 12, 2012 12:02 PM
________________________________

Sort of in agreement with Mick. These soft tissue injuries and muscle pulls happen with too much frequency. The only way to prove your theory is to compare with the league as a whole.

I do agree on Henry Rodriguez. Just not a fan of a guy who can't locate the strike zone. Throwing 100 MPH is impressive and few can do it but I would rather get 95 MPH with movement that finds the strike zone and there are many relievers throwing that.

Gonat said...

SCNatsFan, Damon is headed to Cleveland

Theophilus said...

"Somebody get a dixiecup of KookAid to Mick, and hook a bungee on the back of his belt, before he jumps!!!"

-- Unkyd

Hell, let him jump. Sounds too much like JayB; one of those is more than enough.

UnkyD said...

Theo: although I'm more of a Pooh bear, myself, I've always loved me some Eeyore! I want Mick and JayB on board, for the Big Smiles, when it all comes together, and it won't be long, now..... ;-)

A DC Wonk said...

I do agree on Henry Rodriguez. Just not a fan of a guy who can't locate the strike zone. Throwing 100 MPH is impressive and few can do it but I would rather get 95 MPH with movement that finds the strike zone and there are many relievers throwing that.

I was HRod's biggest defender last year. I repeated, ad nausuem, that most of the hardest throwers weren't able to locate their stuff well until after age 25 (look it up: Ryan, Koufax, etc), which is how old HRod is now.

There's no guarantee, but I think he is pretty close at getting it together. He pitched, for the most part, lights out in ST. And, even last night, when we wasn't completely on, he still retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the 9th with 2 K's.

I don't know, Gonat, if you've seen him pitch in person. But when he's on, he's unhittable, and not because he throws 100 mph, but because he has serious wicked off speed stuff that the batters flounder at. The combination is deadly. There's no lock, but he has tremendous up-side, and with just a bit more control (physical and emotional) I would not be surprised to see him end up as the top reliever for the Nats. I think he is _potentially_ that good.

Anonymous said...

Will he be wearing a "Total Shutdown Mode" t-shirt during this 6 weeks? It's the bizarro Beast Mode.

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