General Manager Mike Rizzo expects Michael Morse will return from his strained lat by opening day or shortly thereafter, a more optimistic view than Manager Davey Johnson took Thursday when he described contingency plans for Morse’s absence.
Morse recently received a platelet-rich plasma injection and has been shut down from baseball activities. But Rizzo observed him today as Morse ran stairs at Space Coast Stadium, and he believes Morse will not need to begin the season on the disabled list.
“He’s feeling good,” Rizzo said. “He’s bouncing around the clubhouse. I feel good about where he’s at. I feel good about opening day, just seeing him in the clubhouse today. I feel good about him opening day, and if not opening day, soon thereafter. That’s the way he looks to me.”
Meanwhile, first baseman Adam LaRoche took at-bats in a minor league game today, Rizzo said, a positive sign for the bone bruise in his left foot. LaRoche has played only four games this spring, the most recent March 15, but he could return as soon as Sunday.
“I feel good about him, too,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo’s opinion of the Nationals’ health has helped shape his view of the team in the final two weeks before opening day. Rizzo does not expect to make any trades that would significantly alter the roster’s makeup.
“We’re not looking for pieces,” Rizzo said. “We’re pretty comfortable with the team we have right now. When healthy, we feel really good with where we’re at. As of today, our health status, I feel good about it. Knock on wood, there hasn’t been any catastrophic injury that’s going to carry through into April and through the season. A lot of teams can’t say that. We feel good about that.”
Many teams have inquired about starting pitcher John Lannan, but with Chien-Ming Wang recovering from a strained hamstring, the Nationals would have to be blown away by an offer to part with Lannan.
The Nationals also have been connected to Diamondbacks outfielder Gerrardo Parra, and the Diamondbacks had a scout at today’s game, a 5-1 Nationals’ loss. But one Nationals’ official said he did not expect the team to strike a deal for Parra, and Rizzo reiterated the team is not actively seeking help.
“We’re not going out there looking,” Rizzo said. “We haven’t made any calls. We like the team that we have right now. If something comes up and we can improve ourselves, we’ll certainly investigate it. But we’re not selling anybody or shopping anybody, because we like where we’re at.”