The ball clanked off the out of town scoreboard in right field Tuesday night and as Michael Morse motored into second base with his second double of the season (and the game) he felt things, ever so slightly, click a bit more back into place.
Having already lost the first two months of the season to a torn right lat muscle, Morse was 0-for-9 in his first two games since returning. His timing, understandably, was a bit off.
But Morse’s two doubles went to right center field Tuesday night — the best sign of all that he’s regaining his form at the plate. Early with his swings in his first few games, Morse began to show his power to the opposite field Tuesday.
“The last couple days, I’ve been kind of connecting way out in front,” Morse said. “So I’ve been trying to see the ball deep. (Tuesday) I tried to really focus on right-center. That’s my power. That’s where I usually hit. So after I hit that first one there, it really felt normal. It felt right. It kind of clicked a little bit.”
Morse’s return to the middle of the Nationals’ order is expected to only help what has been somewhat lagging production of the 3-4-5 spots in the Nationals order. One bonus is that it drops Ian Desmond, one of the Nationals’ most consistent hitters this season, into the No. 6 spot with the hope that he’ll have more run-producing opportunities.
Tuesday night, Desmond drove home the tying run three different times.
Morse, who was originally targeting this coming Friday for his return, will also likely serve as the Nationals’ designated hitter in their upcoming six-game American League road swing. Manager Davey Johnson could use a mix of players in that spot but he said Wednesday he’d lean toward putting Morse there and allowing him some time off from throwing in games after such a long layoff.
Morse, whose injury only affected his throwing, would still be able to do work on his throwing program and continue to strengthen his throwing arm while not being pressured with game situations.
It would also allow Johnson to start Xavier Nady or Roger Bernadina or Rick Ankiel in the outfield.