Michael Morse's strained right lat, once considered minor, will sideline the Nationals' left fielder and cleanup hitter for at least six weeks.
General manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday Morse will be in "total shutdown mode" for six weeks. There is no viable surgical option to repair the injury.
Morse injured the on lat March 6, but the Nationals predicted he would be ready for Thursday's home opener against the Reds. But in Monday's rehabilitation game with Single-A Hagerstown, Morse wasn't able to throw the ball from left to shortstop.
"We thought it was just a slight little pull," Rizzo said. "We don't know what caused it or what went wrong."
Throwing, not swinging, causes Morse's pain. Rizzo thought chilly weather in Hagerstown on Monday may have contributed to Morse reinjuring the lat.
Better news came from closer Drew Storen, who underwent surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow Wednesday. No structural problems were found in the elbow, Storen said, but he doesn't have a timetable to return.
"It's probably a couple months," Storen said. "When I come back, I want to be me."
The Nationals also learned prospect Anthony Rendon suffered a partial fracture, not a sprain, of his left ankle last week. He is in a boot and will see a foot and ankle specialist Friday, but Rizzo doesn't expect the injury to end Rendon's season.
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