By Kelly Parsons
The Washington Times
In batting practice just a few hours before starting at designated hitter for his rehab assignment with the Single-A Potomac Nationals on Tuesday, Washington left fielder Michael Morse hit ball after ball over the 400-foot center field wall at Pfitzner Stadium.
Morse, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a torn right lat muscle, ended the night with just two at-bats in Potomac’s rain-shortened game against Myrtle Beach — one walk, one strikeout. With a bat in his hand, Morse said he almost feels completely normal.
His ability to produce at the plate, though, doesn’t seem to be the thing that is keeping him from getting back to the big leagues.
The injured National has been completing daily throwing programs in order to strengthen his injured arm. He didn’t play in the field Tuesday, but the ever-improving Morse can’t wait to get in the outfield.
“I’m throwing now more than I ever threw in my life,” he said. “I’m throwing 100 throws a day and the balls coming out nice and easy. It feels great. I don’t feel any pain or nothing.”
Morse has been scheduled to return to Washington, likely as a designated hitter, for the team’s June 8 game against Boston. But Morse and Nationals manager Davey Johnson are hoping he gets back up even sooner.
“I’ve got the word out right now that if he’s throwing OK, run him out there,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters before the Nats played in Miami. “Just let him throw the ball to the shortstop and the second baseman and continue his throwing program. He doesn’t have to throw anybody out to be a candidate to be a call-up.”
Hitting in the No. 3 hole Tuesday with Potomac, Morse saw six pitches before he was walked in the first. The inning ended with the following batter on a fly out. In the fourth inning, Morse struck out swinging on a slider after fouling off three pitches to right field. The game was suspended in the top of the fifth due to rain.
Even though he failed to put the ball in play, Morse was positive about his progress after the game. He expects to be back in Woodbrige, Va., Wednesday when the Potomac Nationals finish tonight’s suspended game and follow it with a seven-inning series finale against the Pelicans.
Potomac manager Brian Rupp said he doesn’t know for sure whether Morse will play in the field or not Wednesday, but said he will likely be the designated hitter again.
“His goal here is to get through this healthy and make sure everything feels good and he was able to do that,” Rupp said. “He felt good, saw the ball pretty good, so obviously progress.”
Morse is itching to get back to Washington as soon as possible. He and Johnson even mentioned the possibility of his return in the upcoming homestand, which begins Friday against Atlanta. But for now, he’s day-to-day.
After an extended absence, Morse doesn’t quite know what role he’ll fill when he returns to Washington. But as long as he’s back home, he’s not going to be picky.
“Hey, one through nine is fine with me,” Morse said. “Just somewhere, it doesn’t matter.”