ATLANTA — Michael Morse did not take batting practice on Friday evening, opting instead to continue to rest his left wrist that was recently found to have a bone bruise and a torn sheath. It’s unlikely he’ll make an appearance in the Nationals’ series here this weekend as the Nationals aim for a return Tuesday.
“I knew it was being real optimistic he’d even be available today,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said before the team’s 7:35 p.m. game.
“I think it’s more likely next Tuesday. He’s still bothered by it and I didn’t think it was going to heal in 48 hours. He’s got to come through a full workout before I even want to take a chance on him. I don’t want to make it worse. And we’ve got three guys chomping at the bit who’d like some playing time that filled in admirably when he was out, (Steve Lombardozzi), (Roger Bernadina) and Tyler Moore, so we’re all right.”
Bernadina replaced Morse in the lineup on Friday night against the right-handed Kris Medlen.
Morse initially dealt with a hand issue in San Francisco in the middle of August when he had some soreness in his right thumb. Two weeks later, he was hit with a pitch on the outside of his right wrist and somewhere in between, Morse said he may have tried to compensate by swinging more with his left hand — and subsequently hurt it.
Morse is hitting .244 since the Nationals began their series with the Giants with just four extra-base hits (one double, one triple and two home runs). He was 0-for-5 against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Tuesday night.
The Nationals carry a relatively firm 8 1/2-game lead into Friday night’s game against the Braves, a comfortable spot, albeit not one they’ve locked down just yet. Johnson said that didn’t play a part into the willingness to sit Morse but it’s certainly an added benefit.
“You don’t want to run somebody out there that’s hurt and who can hurt worse,” Johnson said. “He’s been nursing it for a month and the results haven’t been that great either. He’s been getting some hits but he hasn’t been hitting nothing with power. We just need to get him healthy.
A good deal of when Morse is able to return to the lineup will be dictated by his pain tolerance. Morse has dealt with two previous issues with his right hand this season and when things reached a point with his left hand that he felt he was hurting the team by not mentioning it, he brought it up to Johnson.
“It has to do with what you can tolerate,” Johnson said. “Obviously he’s been trying to play through it but he’s dominant with the bottom hand and that’s the hand where that tear is. We’ll just have to wait and see. I know he’s been getting a lot of treatment. He came early. He beat me here and I saw him in the training room and I knew it was still bad.”