VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals will leave Viera, Fla. for good on Sunday, traveling south to Jupiter to play the Cardinals and then across the state to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox. After that, though, their only path will be north. North to D.C. for an exhibition against the Red Sox on April 3 and north again to Chicago for Opening Day.
As of Thursday morning, Nationals manager Davey Johnson had decided that outfielder Michael Morse and closer Drew Storen would be making the trip with the team.
Both Morse (right lat strain) and Storen (elbow joint inflammation) are likely to start the season on the disabled list and there was some ambiguity over whether or not it’d be best for them to remain in Florida to continue their rehab or stay with the team. Johnson’s preference was for them to remain with the team and he appears to have gotten his wish.
“Storen and Morse are vital parts of this ballclub,” Johnson said. “And I want to keep them under my keen eye. Early in their rehab I want them to be around (trainer Lee Kuntz), (pitching coach Steve McCatty), (hitting coach Rick Eckstein) and me, rather than somebody else.
“This time of a recovery from an injury, I like to keep it close at hand and if I have to sit on them if they’re going too hard, trying to get back too quick, I can do that.”
Both Storen and Morse will be evaluated by team doctor Wiemi Douoguih in D.C. and the Nationals will make a decision from there if they want them to travel with the team to Chicago and New York or if rehab assignments (or perhaps even heading back to Florida for extended spring training) is in their futures.
Storen said Thursday morning he was feeling much better and hasn’t had any soreness or pain after throwing long toss the past few days. If all goes according to plan, he’s on track to get on a mound before the end of the week.
The Nationals have not, however, decided if right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will follow a similar path.
Wang’s left hamstring injury has always been more severe than the injuries of Storen and Morse. Wang was walking slowly up and down the stadium steps with one of the Nationals’ trainers on Thursday as he continues to progress in his rehab. But Johnson plans to give him a few more days before they decide if it’d be best for him to remain in warm weather or join the club.
“I’d like to keep him,” Johnson said.