The Washington Times - May 18, 2012, 06:44PM

Michael Morse hit off a tee on Friday, the first time he’s been allowed to hit anything since he was shut down from all activity on April 11. And in even more positive news for Morse, who is recovering from a torn right lat muscle, he will head to Viera, Fla. on Monday to begin getting live at-bats.

The Nationals expect Morse to get live at-bats in extended spring training games “fairly early,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. In addition to progressing to hitting off a tee, Morse has been working in a throwing program (and was out making throws from about 60 feet on Friday) and has been shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice to keep himself in shape. 


The feeling is that Morse, who the Nationals originally targeted June 8 and the start of interleague play in American League ballparks for his return, may be ready to return closer to the start of the month when the Nationals return home from their upcoming nine-game, 10-day road trip.

“I think he could make his schedule for when we come off the road trip,” Johnson said. “It’ll be real close.”

Morse will most likely need to go to one of the Nationals’ affiliates to play in some minor league games before he’s activated.

“Down (in Florida) you really control his playing time and it doesn’t mess up (the minor league rosters),” Johnson said. “But I would say once he can swing or throw from the outfield, very shortly after that he could go anywhere and play. Certainly DH, and play left field.”