FORT MYERS, Fla. — Outfielders Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel will both begin the 2012 season on the disabled list, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Monday. The Nationals are planning, however, for both to be ready to join Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday and begin their rehab assignments with them as they open the 2012 season in Bowie, Md.
“I’m hopeful that one or both will be fairly close to ready when we come home (for the home opener on April 12),” Johnson said.
For Morse, the plan for him to go out on a rehab assignment is a significant step in his rehab from a right lat strain that kept him from playing the field in a single spring training game. Morse has played in just __ games, serving as a designated hitter each time. His rehab has included a multi-week period of rest, a platelet-rich plasma shot and a sonogram this past week that showed good signs of healing.
Ankiel has been dealing with quad soreness throughout camp and he returned to the active lineup two weeks ago, only to be pulled Tuesday, March 27. He took live batting practice on Sunday, though, and the Nationals feel he’s close enough to a return that he could play in games by Thursday.
The plan for both will be to alternate between serving as the team’s designated hitter and playing the field — the second part an important aspect for both as their injuries are most prevalent when they’re playing the outfield.
“They probably could hit third and fourth on that club,” Johnson joked.
– The Nationals will bring closer Drew Storen and Chien-Ming Wang with them to D.C. as well and the Nationals will monitor their progress from there.
Storen was on schedule to throw a bullpen on Monday and Wang is progressing to the point where the Nationals could send him out on a rehab assignment relatively soon.
– Roger Bernadina, who Johnson said before Monday’s game he was “leaning toward” starting on Opening Day in center field, was hit with an errant pickoff throw from Red Sox pitcher Aaron Cook. He made it to second base but Nationals trainers immediately came out to see him and he was promptly removed from the game.
UPDATE: Bernadina left the game with what the Nationals are calling a right knee contusion. He’s listed as day-to-day.
If Bernadina is unable to start Thursday, Jayson Werth would likely be the starting replacement in center field.