The Washington Times - August 19, 2011, 06:47PM

Michael Morse didn’t know he would be taking Friday night off until he arrived at Nationals Park and noticed his name missing from the lineup. One week after taking a fastball from Ryan Dempster off his left elbow, Morse is dealing with some inflammation in the area. The Nationals are concerned that, without some rest, it could turn into tendinitis. Morse was absent from Friday’s lineup as a precaution.

For his part, the slugging first baseman said he did not expect to sit and even tried to talk his way back into the lineup, but it was to no avail. Morse was icing the elbow after Thursday night’s win over Cincinnati and was chatting with Nationals manager Davey Johnson and trainer Lee Kuntz early Friday afternoon.

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Morse did not take batting practice on Friday, either, instead occupying his time during BP by taking grounders at shortstop — the position he was drafted at by the White Sox years ago.

“He tried to talk his way into the lineup,” Johnson admitted. “‘I said, if we were fighting for a pennant, maybe, but I’m going to be on the cautious side.’ I would use him to win a ballgame tonight but it’s just precautionary. There’s no sense in being a warrior right now.”

Morse wasn’t thrilled to have a night off, with Laynce Nix taking his place both at first base and in the cleanup spot in the lineup, but did understand the reasoning.

“I guess it’s better to take a day now than take a day later,” he said. 

Morse has been easily the Nationals best hitter this season with a .319 average, .370 on-base percentage and a .558 slugging. He has 21 homers and 71 RBI.