The Washington Times - May 13, 2011, 07:21PM

The writing has been on the wall for Michael Morse for the past few days, as the starts in left field continued for Laynce Nix despite Morse’s right knee no longer being a problem.

And the longer it goes on, the more it looks like Nix may have fully supplanted Morse as the team’s starting left fielder. The truth of the matter is that it’s going to remain fluid. But as long as Nix stays hot, and one scout who’s watched him doesn’t expect that to be any time soon, he’ll continue to get the playing time. 

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It’s a somewhat surprising turn of events for Morse, who did well for the Nationals in a bench role last year and lit the world on fire this spring.

His regular season has been anything but hot, hitting just .235 with 2 HR and 11 RBI, while Nix continues to crush the ball with a .282 average, 4 HR and 13 RBI. It’s led to something of a reversal in roles for the two.

“It’s amazing how hot (Morse) was in spring training, and really how he played last season. He took that right into the spring. I don’t really have an explanation,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

“Disappointment is not the word I’d use. But I don’t have an explanation, other than sometimes there are players who are just a little more comfortable coming to the ballpark and seeing if they’re playing, where they’re playing, where they’re hitting, rather than most guys are the other way. They need to know exactly what they’re playing, where they’re hitting in the order.

“Mike might be one of those guys who is a little more comfortable moving around to different positions, different spots in the lineup, sitting a day, playing, sitting, playing, playing, sitting, whatever. That routine was real good for him last year. It may be that’s the direction we’ll go with Mike.”

Nix has been everything the Nationals could want out of an outfielder. He plays good defense, has a strong throwing arm and gives them a good power threat in the lineup. For Morse, he could return to excelling in the role he played last year, but it’s hard to look at his first six weeks of the season and not see a missed opportunity for the 29-year-old.