- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2012

Lounging in a brown recliner inside the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse Monday, his workout for the day finished, all Michael Morse could do was watch his teammates prepare for their game against the Houston Astros. It was a feeling he’ll have to get used to.

“I feel like I’ve been shut down since camp,” Morse said with a resigned shrug, one week into a six-week shutdown period to heal his torn right lat muscle.

It could have been worse.

A potential surgery, which ultimately was ruled out, would have come with a recovery period of nine to 12 months.

A week ago, his path appeared to be very different. Play nine innings and return to the active roster just in time for the home opener April 12. That was the plan.

But on a cold night in Hagerstown, Md., Morse began to feel discomfort severe enough that he struggled to throw the ball back to the shortstop from left field, and he asked fellow rehabbing teammate Rick Ankiel for advice.

“If it’s hurting today, it’s going to hurt tomorrow,” Ankiel told him.

Morse pulled himself from the game in the seventh inning, went to Washington that night and underwent an MRI the next morning.

It showed that the tear, which had appeared to heal enough March 28 to clear Morse to return to baseball activities, had worsened.

Team physician Dr. Wiemi Douoguih told him then about the possible surgical option, and while Morse was “trying to soak that in,” Douoguih sent his films to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Both agreed that surgery would most likely not be necessary.

But Andrews requested an in-person visit with Morse, so he was on the next flight out to Pensacola, Fla., to one of Andrews’ satellite offices.

Morse had a second platelet-rich plasma shot that day in Andrews’ office and plans to have another in two or three weeks, but the prognosis of rest over surgery was confirmed. “A sigh of relief,” Morse called it. Morse had his first PRP shot March 22.

“It’s a rare kind of injury,” Morse said. “And there’s not a lot of literature about how to fix it. The only thing there is so far is the protocol has been a six-week shutdown.”

The idea is that with the healing he showed after two weeks of inactivity this spring extended to six weeks, the muscle will recover and any worry of re-injuring it will pass.

A lot of that depends on Morse listening to the doctors and allowing for a complete shutdown. He is permitted to do cardio work as well as lower-body conditioning but no upper-body work and extremely minimal swinging.

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