PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Washington Nationals got what manager Davey Johnson termed “the best news I had” all day when outfielder Michael Morse underwent a sonogram that showed the slight tear in his right lat muscle is healing.
The news comes on Morse’s second day of throwing after a two-week period of inactivity that involved a platelet-rich plasma injection to speed the healing. Morse threw from 60-90 feet on Wednesday for the second straight day and with the positive results from the sonogram test, he has been cleared to “accelerate his baseball activities.”
“It went great,” Johnson said after the Nationals’ 3-2 victory over the Mets. “The sonogram showed that the tear has flattened out and healed.”
Johnson said Wednesday morning that if all went well with this latest test, Morse would be cleared to begin hitting off a tee. He was not immediately sure how accelerated Morse’s activities will be so he was not ready to deem him probable for Opening Day — but it doesn’t appear Morse will require an extended stint on the disabled list if he indeed needs one.
Players who have spring injuries can be backdated on the disabled list to March 26, as long as they haven’t played in major league games since then, so the first day Morse would be eligible to come off the disabled list would be April 10. The minor league teams open their seasons on April 5 as well but the only two Nationals affiliates who will open with a homestand are Triple-A Syracuse and Single-A Hagerstwon. Any rehab assignments, most likely, would have to be with those teams if he needs one to be ready to return by the earliest possible date.
Johnson would prefer to carry Morse with him, he said, but it appears that too is unlikely, especially with the team starting the season in Chicago and New York, two cities with unpredictable — and often cold — weather in April.
Morse has been “champing at the bit,” to get back into baseball activities, though, and since he hasn’t played a single game this spring in the outfield, Wednesday’s news was extremely welcome for the Nationals’ cleanup hitter.