Friday, June 1, 2012

Morse ready at last for his Opening Day

US Presswire photo
Michael Morse says he's "100 percent" healthy again.
Michael Morse reached into his locker and pulled out a custom set of spikes, with words stitched into each heel. On the left, it read "Opening." On the right, it read "Day."

He planned to wear them Friday night (before the game was rained out) when he finally took the field at Nationals Park for the first time this season.

"June 1," he said. "Who would've thunk it?"

Certainly not Morse, and certainly not the Nationals, back on March 6 when some minor discomfort in his upper right back forced him to be scratched from a spring training game at Walt Disney World.

Upon feeling that discomfort while playing catch in the outfield that afternoon, Morse wasn't even sure he should bother mentioning it to anyone.

"I was just like, my arm hurts a little bit," he said.

Morse did finally decide to tell manager Davey Johnson, who wasn't overly concerned but didn't want to take any chances that early in the spring. Little did anyone realize at the time the severity of the injury: a torn lat muscle.

What would Morse have said if someone told him that day he'd miss three months?

"I would've laughed in their face," he said.

In fact, Morse claims he never would have said a word to anyone at the time had he been fighting for a roster spot and not been assured of starting on Opening Day.

"Oh, definitely not," he said. "But imagine where that would've got me."

Morse can laugh about it all now, because he's at long last, he's healthy and able to play. The road back, though, featured plenty of bumps.

First came an attempt to bat in spring training games, two of them in mid-March. Then he was shut down again and told to rest for at least two weeks, during which time he received a platelet-rich plasma injection to try to speed up the healing process.

Though he wasn't ready to return for Opening Day in Chicago, Morse still was on track to come off the disabled list in time for the Nationals' April 12 home opener. He played in three rehab games for Class AA Harrisburg, then was set to play one more for low-Class A Hagerstown, needing only to make it through nine innings in the field to be cleared for action.

During that final game, though, Morse felt a recurrence of pain in the affected area when he tried to make throws from the outfield. So he was shut down again, this time for six weeks.

Only this week -- after completing a rehab program at extended spring training in Viera, Fla., and then playing in three games at high-Class A Potomac -- was Morse truly able to return to full health.

There was some thought to restricting him to pinch-hitting duties, or preventing him from making significant throws from the outfield, but both Morse and Johnson insisted he's cleared for full particpation.

"I'm 100 percent," Morse said. "If I wasn't 100 percent, I wouldn't be here."

And will he cut loose from right field to make a throw?

"If I have to, I have to," he said. "I mean, not like Rick Ankiel, but ..."

Whether Morse is able to pick right up where he left off at the end of last season -- he led the Nationals with a .303 average, 31 homers and 95 RBI -- remains to be seen. But his return to the lineup remains a welcome treat for his manager, who figures opposing teams won't enjoy having to face the massive right-handed hitter.

"It's real nice," Johnson said. "I've been waiting on it for some time. ... He was our best hitter last year. You've got to give him some respect."

Morse was scheduled to hit cleanup and start in right field Friday night against Braves left-hander Mike Minor. He'll remain in right field for the foreseeable future, at least until Jayson Werth returns from a broken wrist. His spot in the lineup, though, might change, with Johnson likely to hit Morse fifth (behind Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche) against right-handed starters.

Despite the absence of their potent, middle-of-the-order slugger -- not to mention the absence of countless other key players currently on the DL -- the Nationals entered Friday in first place in the NL East, holding a slim, 1/2-game lead over the Mets and Marlins.

Morse expected nothing less from his teammates.

"I wasn't surprised, especially with the team that we have," he said. "I definitely wasn't surprised. I still think there's so much more potential than we've got. I don't think we've hit our stride yet. And when we do, it's going to be a lot of fun."

70 comments:

MicheleS said...

WOOOOOOO HOOOOO!!!! Not only do I get Stras (but would love to see Gio), I get the Beast Mode Debut tomorrow!!!

JaneB said...

One more day of healing, then, till he starts gorse hacking.

I can wait. My daughter will be representing tomorrow. Maybe she will finally find a Morse shirt there, now that he's back.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Glad you ladies are getting to see Jesus tomorrow. It will come at my expense. I have tix to the Thursday matinee against the Mets, which was supposed to be his next start. I guess that means three hours with Wang/Det (Fill in your own joke here).

SFNats said...

Per Rotoworld The Braves are skipping Minor due to the rainout, so tomorrow will be Beachy vs. Stras. And Sunday will be Hanson vs. Gio. Good pitching matchups.

Wendell said...

Wow, I just got tix tomorrow. Nice matchup.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Alumni News (Knucklehead Division):
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan hit a solo home run in the first inning of Friday night's game against Pittsburgh, snapping his major league record of 138 straight plate appearances without an RBI to start the season.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Johan no-hitting Cards.

NatsJack in Florida said...

It's really hard rooting for the Phillies but that is offset ny how easy it is to root against the Fish.

But Contreras is on and this can change quickly.

Faraz Shaikh said...

Johan no-hits Cards.

Wendell said...

Johan finishes no-hitter

NatsLady said...

NJ, so true. But tomorrow gotta root against Colbert...

baseballswami said...

And he had like 140 pitches! First in Mets history - so glad it wasn't against us.

John C. said...

Johan may have been able to throw a no-hitter ... but he couldn't beat Levale Speigner!

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

We'll probably catch Santana next Thursday when he tries to Johnny Vander Meer us.

baseballswami said...

Hopefully he will be exhausted.

NatsLady said...

Fish haven't lost yet. Back to back HR's by LoMo and a pinch hitter. Wouldn't it be JUST LIKE the Fils to squander a 4-run lead?

jeffwx said...

Nats must make a trade lest they lose players from the waiver wire.
Matheus back ---> Perry down
Derosa back ---> Mald. DFA
Lidge ---> ???
Storen ---> ???
Werth ---> ???

Section 222 said...

So Sunshine, you thought you'd be watching Strasburg on Thursday, instead you get Santana. Life is fickle!

NatsLady said...

Won't it be Ejax against Santana on Wednesday?

Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

Maldonado isn't going to get dumped, they need all the catchers they can get, and he can go on the DL for a few weeks, at least. Werth won't be back for a couple of months more--sufficient unto the day is the DL thereof. Storen, OTOH, might be an issue if nobody else gets their hand caught in the door.

That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter said...

My mom just emailed me about Santana: "I guess somebody there can play that game."

Maybe the humor gene skipped a generation, and there's hope yet for my daughter.

NatsFan05 said...

White Sox winning again...

I so glad Adam Dunn is having a bounce back year, he's was such a fun player to root for as a Nat. I’m glad we have our Adam and agreed with letting Dunn leave last year, but I still root for our old Adam(17 HRs)to have a great year in the AL.

See you in October!

NatsFan05 said...

Oh yeah! Welcome back Mike, you have been missed!

Section 222 said...

Looks like NL is right. Mets don't have an off day on Monday, Nats do. If I'm counting this right, you get Wang and Dickey on Thursday. Seriously. Let the Twitter jokes begin.

TimDz said...

Any news about the MASN dispute?

Drew said...

Re Johan's gem:

This division is so good that there's a real chance three of its teams could make the playoffs. The last-place Phils are 1.5 games out of the wild card.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

My feeling on Johan is after 135 pitches Friday night, they might just push him back a day. Just a hunch.

peric said...

Nats must make a trade lest they lose players from the waiver wire.
Matheus back ---> Perry down
Derosa back ---> Nady DFA (interesting choice given DeRosa's recent injury history, one that might not make sense. I can't see it.)
Tracy ---> ??? Here's where it gets interesting. Trade?
Lidge ---> ??? Not more effective than any pitcher they currently have. . Lidge for Stammen? Not unless Stammen falters. Lidge DFA'ed after a full 30 day rehab cycle through the minors. He is traded for a prospect.
Storen ---> ??? Stammen optioned unless another injury.
Werth ---> Maldonado DFA to SYR (unless Sandy Leon gets to SYR sooner) Werth gets full 30 day cycle in minors. Its not like getting Morse back. Bench bat replacing Nady.

peric said...

Maldonado isn't going to get dumped, they need all the catchers they can get, and he can go on the DL for a few weeks, at least. Werth won't be back for a couple of months more--sufficient unto the day is the DL thereof.

Maldonado isn't going anywhere not even to the DL until Sandy Leon is completely healthy and catching in Syracuse and Flores proves he is past this latest injury. Not to mention Solano's back issues with a recent visit to the DL in Syracuse.

Davey has to carry 3 catchers ... at least for now and he knows it.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MicheleS said...

Peric.. I beleive that Matheus has options and maybe Stammen. That has to be taken into consideration as well.

NatsLady said...

Ex-Nats: Nyjer hit a (solo) HR. He also did this, which cost three runs.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_06_01_pitmlb_milmlb_1#gid=2012_06_01_pitmlb_milmlb_1&mode=video

baseballswami said...

Can you even imagine as well as Stammen has been pitching that he could get sent to the minors? Maybe there is such a thing as too much pitching.

MicheleS said...

Swami.. I would be suprised if Stammen got sent down as well, but you have to take into account all factors for the roster moves. As much as we like to play armchair GM and make the moves that make sense, you have to take everything into consideration. How many people thought Lannan would get sent down? He had an Option, Det Didn't.

baseballswami said...

I will say this again - our organizational depth is crazy! Another thing that is crazy -- NLEast separated top to bottom by two and a half games!!! All five teams are probably going to be jockeying around in the standings for the duration. Excitement and stress to the max! All five teams have the potential to be on top - it depends on whether or not you hit a team when they are cold( Atlanta last weekend) or hot ( Miami - oy). Whatever the Nats have been doing to scratch out wins, I hope they keep doing it. First it was pitching and late inning heroics, then it was earlier runs - whatever works. Go Nats!

mick said...

when exactly is Werth eligible to come back, was 60 days retroactive from when he was first placed on DL?

mick said...

Boswell's article was spot on, he forgot to mention Desmond

mick said...

swami... thank goodness there is an extra playoff team now

mick said...

I still think the Mets will fold at some point, Marlins I think are the best in NL

mick said...

Drew, I would be stunned if 3 do not come out of NL East for playoffs

NatsLady said...

If Wednesday's weather is good and it's EJax vs. Johan, I might play hooky just to see the no-hitters face each other...

Beachy no slouch, of course, but Stras should be rested with no rain, muddy mound, etc. Clip is finding out the life of a "closer" is a lot of bench time. :)

Hoping for some overcast to cut the late afternoon shadows.

baseballjones said...

Wow, I was really struck by the stat in boswell's column this morning that Ryan Zimmerman only has 14 HRs over his last 500+ ABs. I didn't realize things had gotten that bad for him. It must have been a very difficult decision for Rizzo to reup him for 100M, especially with rendon in the wings (although my sense is that rendon is not going to make it - destined to be a cautionary tale about wasting a high draft pick on an injury-prone player). People give werth such a hard time, wonder how much longer it will be before we turn our attention to zim.

Joe Seamhead said...

Injury-DL-wise is interesting. In the month of July there are a lot of guns possibly being ready to play again in time for the final third of the season. I know some don't feel the Nats are weaker with Werth missing, but I'll take a starting OF of Werth in RF,Harper in CF, and Morse in LF. with Lombo as our super utility guy.
Storen hopefully returns to his old self, and has anyone heard anything about Cole Kimble? I really liked what we saw of Kimble last year.
Point is, if we can stay at, or near the top until the All Star break we should be in very good shape to compete for the NL East title.

Joe Seamhead said...

I can't believe the Mets left Santana in for that many pitches. They guy is coming back from shoulder surgery.

hiramhover said...

Ryan Zimmerman only has 14 HRs over his last 500+ ABs.

That's a little misleading, tho--he's had a lot of ups and downs in his 600 ABs since April 2011. His power returned last summer after his injury but then tailed off again in Sept. This season, he's had a pretty consistent power outage, again because of injury. Sorry, Peric--it's Zim, not Werth, who's been putting up #s worthy of a bench player this season.

Obviously, tho, neither Werth nor Zim is a bench player--that's not what either one is being paid for. Zim's propensity for injury is something Rizzo knew when they signed him to that extension, tho Rizzo probably hoped it wouldn't happen so soon. As for the fans--because of the injury, and because of how Zim sustained our interest in the team thru the bad times, I think we're going to show him a lot more patience than Werth--or Espinosa for that matter (Zim and Espi have essentially the same wRC+ this season--86 vs 85).

baseballswami said...

Zim has spent time on the dl and has also played hurt and played with the team when he wasn't all the way back - like maybe he is doing now. If you look to him as just a power guy that might be misleading. He is one of those guys that is a complete player, a leader , and frequently clutch , especially when he is healthy. I think his value to the team can't be measured by home run stats. If he turns out to be our Scotty Baseball, then I think it will have been worth it over the long haul.Re: - Santana - 11 starts after shoulder surgery - 130+ pitchers - anyone else think that borders on risky? I think he is a veteran and knew the risk and wanted to take the risk and so they let him. Will this come back to haunt them later? One thing about the game, though - it was relatively low stress as the team was way out ahead. That seems to matter in pitching. Whereas the Nats pitchers? Usually high stress and showing signs that they do worse when it's low stress!

jeffwx said...

David Freitas as an emergency catcher who can be called up too according to Nats Talk
Not sure when Sandy Leon is scheduled to be back.

jeffwx said...

Peric, I like the idea for trading Lidge for a prospect. Why not throw Lannon in a deal.
Do not see the upside of DeRosa over Nady when DeRosa returns.
Hate to see Stammen go down to the minors.
Could they trade Wang instead.

MicheleS said...

Jeff.. They could trade CMW.. but the issue then becomes Wang or Lannan when Stras is shut down?

jeffwx said...

I would go with Detwiller when Stras is shut down.
And keep Stammen in the major league bullpen

That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter said...

I'm hoping they make Stammen the closer, option Wang to AAA, and trade a draft pick for Span.

jeffwx said...

Nats Talk Live just addressed the question of who could start after Stras is shut down:
Detwiller, Y. Maya, Z. Duke, J. Lannan or T. Gorzalonny. They would look inside the org for extra starters when needed.

jeffwx said...

Nats live talks about a log jam in the outfield when Werth comes back. Still an area that could be strengthened I think esp. since I don't think Nady, Ankiel, DeRosa are good for bench outfielders/pinch hitters and Lombo really belongs in the infield.
I like getting a Span type player and releasing/trading either Nady/Ankiel/DeRosa

baseballswami said...

Logjams in the outfield and in pitching. Survival of the fittest? I see Detweiler back in the rotation when Stras is shut down - I think the game got going a little fast for him and he will be read the next time. September call ups could be amazing!

jeffwx said...

OK,on the other hand, assuming no major trades by August:
bench : Lombo/Tracey/Maldonado/Ankiel/Nady

Gio/Zimm/Jackson/Wang/Detwiller

Storen/Stammen/Lidge/HROD/Burnett/Gorzo/Matheus

Espi/Harper/Zimm/Morse/Ankiel/Werth/Desmond/Flores

jeffwx said...

Yes,this Tyler Moore dude is pretty amazing when he plays every day...Same for Brown/Treahan

baseballswami said...

I know I have been saying this every single day -- the depth is awesome and exciting!!!

MicheleS said...

Remember the other day when they had Lombo as a write-in on the Nats site at 2b for the All star ballot.. They made a change.. Now they want you to write him in as on OF.

NatsLady said...

Hey, Jeffwx, what did you do with my man Clip????

Storen/Stammen/Lidge/HROD/Burnett/Gorzo/Matheus

jeffwx said...

Interesting...He'll have to replace Kemp ;)

jeffwx said...

Holy Croley...I knew I forgot someone...The depth keeps getting deeper...Maybe because he is an ex-yankee, maybe because I haven't had any coffee
I like the idea of trading Lidge for a prospect then.

MicheleS said...

Jeffwx.. NatsLady is very protective of Clip

;-)

jeffwx said...

Understood. If he looked like Eva Longoria I'd be protective of him too.

Steady Eddie said...

When Storen comes back I suspect that Maryhrus will get sent down, as I believe that was the Opening Day plan during ST before Druuuu had surgery. I think they want to groom Mattheus as potential future closer or set-up/fireman and he needs to be in that role regularly to get there.

Plus Stammen is too valuable as the RH long reliever/spit starter, as Gorzy is as a LH.

Someone mentioned Kimball but coming back from a shoulder injury is always iffy for a pitcher and I have to believe they will bring him back very gradually -- a few August appearances in AAA and sparing use as a Sept call up, if he's able to do even that. He's got a lot if talent but not an issue in this BP until next year at soonest.

NatsLady said...

Zim's fiancee has a sense of humor.

Bridesmaids

https://twitter.com/heatherdownen/status/208962136335060992/photo/1

peric said...

when exactly is Werth eligible to come back, was 60 days retroactive from when he was first placed on DL?

Putting Werth on the 60-day says a lot. He is now off of the 40-man roster which means someone needs to be removed from both rosters to make room for him.

Werth is going to have to prove his wrist is completely healthy after 2 major surgeries on it. I wouldn't bet the farm on it. At least this season.

peric said...

Jeffwx.. NatsLady is very protective of Clip

He's also been one guy who has been extremely lucky dodging the injury bullet.

peric said...

When Storen comes back I suspect that Maryhrus will get sent down, as I believe that was the Opening Day plan during ST before Druuuu had surgery.

We'll see. With HRod as inconsistent as he is. And Lidge not any better even when "healthy" and that's a subjective term in his case. They will need Ryan Mattheus. There really isn't anyone better out there ...

peric said...

Plus Stammen is too valuable as the RH long reliever/spit starter, as Gorzy is as a LH.

Can't see either Lidge or Wang lasting very long ... might not even make to when Storen is slated to return both have the same issue: shoulder surgeries.

peric said...

Jeff.. They could trade CMW.. but the issue then becomes Wang or Lannan when Stras is shut down?

Aren't you forgetting the following pitchers Michelle?
Detwiler, Gorzelanny AND Stammen. All three are starters ...

And Lannan is buried so deep on the minors depth chart he isn't going anywhere this season unless they get lucky and someone accepts a late trade for John Lannan.

AAA: Yunkesky Maya
AA: Danny Rosenbaum
AAA: Mitch Atkins
AAA: Zach Duke

The four pitchers above are way ahead of John Lannan ..

My gawd doesn't anyone follow the minors? Lannan is getting shelled
regularly.

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