The Washington Times - March 12, 2012, 11:53AM

VIERA, Fla. — Nationals outfielder Michael Morse was back in the lineup for the first time in a week on Monday, hitting cleanup as the team’s designated hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Morse, who was pulled just before Tuesday’s game against the Braves with what was termed a right lat strain, received a cortisone shot in the area on Saturday. He still hasn’t gone through a significant throwing workout but it appears not to hinder him with everything else.


“Maybe I’ll do some throwing today,” Morse said Monday morning. “I feel good. There’s no rush. There’s just no reason to rush.”

The cortisone had already begun to help, Morse said, feeling that the shot had helped dissolve the knot somewhat. Morse played a little light catch in the outfield during the team’s morning stretch.

– Bryce Harper said Monday morning that his left calf was feeling better. He tested it with a little running on Sunday and was hopeful he’d be able to get back into the lineup on Tuesday.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson presented a little different picture of the scenario, though, saying that Harper “still had a little discomfort in there,” when Johnson spoke to him in the training room earlier.

Johnson informed Harper, who has missed the last five games with the tightness, that he’d be happy to put him back in the lineup as soon as the outfielder can go through a full workout without any pain. The Nationals have been extremely cautious with injuries — regardless of how minor — that players have dealt with this spring and Harper is no different.

Johnson noted Monday that it wouldn’t “hurt” his chances to make the team because the Nationals are well aware that he’s “a gifted talent.”

“The only thing i don’t want to do is rush him and hurt him that way,” Johnson said. “He’s just a part of a lot of pieces that go together in putting together an outfield. The jury’s still out.”