Before we get to Michael Morse, who might be the hottest hitter in baseball, there’s a quick update on Jayson Werth: In the ninth inning Thursday night, Diamondbacks reliever Aaron Heilman drilled Werth in the elbow with an 89-mph fastball. “When you get hit right there,” Manager Jim Riggleman said, “that’s a bad spot.”
Riggleman and an athletic trainer went out to first base to chat with Werth. He stayed in the game, and the inning continued for a few more minutes, allowing the pain to dull. But, Riggleman said, if the half inning had ended immediately, he would removed Werth in the bottom of the ninth. Riggleman is assuming Werth will be okay today, but he will check with him about his elbow before penciling his name into the lineup.
We know for certain who will be at first base tonight. Michael Morse received a second opportunity when he replaced Adam LaRoche, and he has grabbed it by the throat. Morse hit .211/.253/.268 in April, losing his grip on the left field position. Since May 1, after he went 4 for 5 last night, Morse is hitting .429/.452/.771 with six home runs.
If not for LaRoche’s torn labrum, Morse may still be playing in a left field platoon. Instead, he’s got the highest batting average in the majors since May began and, sometimes, batting cleanup.
“I’m just going to take what I can,” Morse said. “If I get in the lineup, I’m going t play my heart out. I’m not going to change anything. And I believe in myself.”
When Morse’s confidence wavered, he looked to hitting coach Rick Eckstein to boost it back up.
“Words describe it,” Morse said of Eckstein’s impact on him. “We’ve just had some loud talks – mostly on his side, with me listening. He cares a lot about me. I appreciate all the hard work and the sweat he’s put in to help me be a better player. He just showed me, and proved to myself, that I’m a good enough player to play here and have success. He knows what it takes mentally to be a good hitter.
“Sometimes, you just get down on yourself, and he’s right there. It’s a gift he has. I’m fortunate to be around him. He’s helped me a lot.”
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NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Louisville 5, Syracuse 1: Jesus Valdez went 3 for 4. Craig Stammen allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings on seven hits and two walks, striking out seven.
New Hampshire 10, Harrisburg 5: Stephen Lombardozzi went 2 for 5 and his hitting .293. Tyler Moore went 2 for 5 with a double.
Potomac 8, Winston-Salem 5: The P-Nats broke an 11-game losing streak. Justin Bloxom went 3 for 5 with two doubles. Destin Hood went 2 for 5 with a walk.
Hagerstown 9, Greenville 8 (10 innings): Bryce Harper hit a walk-off , two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th and went 4 for 5 with a walk. Adrian Sanchez went 3 for 5 with a double. Taylor Jordan allowed no earned runs in six innings on six hits and no walks, striking out five.