The Washington Times - March 17, 2012, 11:04AM

VIERA, Fla. — Michael Morse had an MRI on his strained right lat but the diagnosis did not change for the Washington Nationals’ cleanup hitter. Morse has not played in a Nationals game since Tueday and has not yet played the field this spring.

The only prescription, at this point, is rest so that’s what the Nationals will allow Morse to do. With three weeks remaining in spring training there still does not appear to be a high concern level about Morse’s injury as Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson maintains this is the “best” time for nagging injuries like this to happen because they have the luxury of giving him the rest he needs.


Morse is still able to hit but the strain “restricts” his throwing, Johnson said.

“I’m going to be on the cautious side,” he said. “I don’t want to have this conversation every day.”

Morse did not hit on the backfield on Saturday. He said Saturday he felt good but there wasn’t much change in his activity level. They’re going to continue being cautious with him.

– First baseman Adam LaRoche was given a similar prognosis as the left ankle sprain that he dealt with at the start of camp is still bothering him. LaRoche is still dealing with some discomfort on the outside of his left foot when he is making turns on the basepaths. An MRI on the foot didn’t show much more than a bone bruise and the feeling is that if it was the regular season LaRoche would be able to tape it up and play without much issue.

LaRoche took batting practice on one of the Nationals’ backfields on Saturday, along with Rick Ankiel (quad).

– Ankiel appears to be the one closest to a return, clarifying that it was his left quad and not his hamstring that has been keeping him out. Ankiel feels he’s now just a few days away from playing and really only has an issue when running. Hitting has not caused him any problems. 

The Nationals have told all three, including Morse, that they are to receive treatment at the Nationals complex and are allowed to take batting practice under the supervision of the trainers but that they are to be given the requisite amount of rest until they can go through a full workout inside the stadium in front of Johnson. After that, they’ll be given the green light to return to the Nationals’ lineup. 

– Chien-Ming Wang was walking without a significant limp through the Nationals’ complex on Saturday and when asked in passing how he was feeling, Wang noted that he felt “much better.” Even better, he said, than he felt on Friday. The right-hander was encouraged that his hamstring strain would not keep him out for an extremely lengthy period of time.

“(All of his trainers and physical therapists) felt like he was in great spirits and he wouldn’t be down that long,” Johnson said. “He proved that his arm was in great shape, that he’s better than he was last year, so that’s a good situation. I feel comfortable that he’s going to be fine.”

– Wilson Ramos (heel) had no issues serving as the Nationals’ designated hitter on Friday in Tampa and said he expected to be back behind the plate on Saturday — which he will be as the Nationals take on the Marlins at 1:05 p.m.

– Despite the injuries to Morse and LaRoche that have significantly hindered them this spring, as well as some of the other smaller injuries that are starting to crop up, Johnson maintained that he is not concerned that the Nationals will have to start worrying about the Opening Day roster any time soon. None of the three guys still out, Morse, LaRoche or Ankiel, have anything to prove, Johnson said, so he’s not concerned about them risking a chance to make the team by taking the proper recourse for their injuries.

“You have a normal amount of injuries,” Johnson said. “A lot of times when the quality of talent is better in your camp, guys push themselves harder earlier and you’re more apt to have that kind of problem but with roughly three weeks to go before the season, I’m happy that it’s now. You know you’re going to have those kind of things happen and it’s been a very competitive camp. I love it. We’ve got some nagging injuries. Everywhere I go I see that.”