The Washington Times - March 11, 2012, 12:32PM

JUPITER, Fla. — Nationals outfielder Michael Morse had a cortisone shot on Saturday to help ease the right lat strain he’s been dealing with for the past week or so. Morse was expected to begin a throwing program on Saturday but that did not happen. He still may get into games as a designated hitter in the coming week.

“The only one I’m a little concerned about is (Morse),” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “I think there were a couple of spot that felt restricted.


“He said he wanted to DH some, but I’ll see how he’s doing.”

Morse was scratched from Tuesday’s game against the Braves shortly before the first pitch. At the time, no one appeared to consider the injury serious and while Morse has been held back from throwing now for six days, the alarms have not yet gone off. Morse is able to do everything but throw.

“Rick (Eckstein) and I have been working with (Morse) every since I got here,” Johnson said. “He’s right on track.”

– Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is also not expected to be in Monday’s lineup when the St. Louis Cardinals visit Space Coast Stadium. Harper, who was scratched from Thursday’s game against the Houston Astros with a tight left calf, still has not tested the calf with hard running.

He continues to hit in the batting cage each day, Johnson said, but without going through a full workout — and then getting another day to rest after that — Johnson won’t write Harper’s name into the lineup. That would put him out until at least Tuesday.

– The Nationals aren’t expecting Rick Ankiel’s tight hamstring to hinder him for an extended period. Ankiel had some work done on the hamstring with the Nationals’ physical therapist and masseuse to break up some of the tightness but it was not so bad that he strained the muscle. Johnson said he’ll probably “be OK (Monday).”

– Outfielder Xavier Paul, a non-roster invitee who was expected to compete for a bench role, was given a leave of absence from camp to deal with a personal issue.