After Sunday’s loss, Michael Morse approached Manager Davey Johnson in his office. Morse had gone 0 for 4 with a strikeout, dropping his average after 14 games in his abbreviated season to .211. Morse has hit fourth and fifth in every game, and he worried about the effect of his scuffling on everyone else. He requested to be moved down in the order. “I’m killing the team,” he told Johnson.
“You’re not killing the team,” Johnson replied, according to his recollection. “You’re going to be fine. You’re going to be carrying us in a minute. I’m not worried. So I don’t want you worrying.”
Morse joined several other Nationals, including Ryan Zimmerman, for early batting practice today. Before Morse stepped into the cage, Johnson demonstrated a few small techniques. Morse then stepped into the cage and blasted several balls over the visitors’ bullpen in left-center field.
With 61 plate appearances under his belt since making his debut June 2, Morse is still looking for his first home run of 2012. He has 15 strikeouts, a .246 on-base percentage and a .281 slugging percentage. He has returned from the lat strain that held him out for the season’s first 50 games, but the Nationals have yet to feel his presence.
Because of his injury, Morse is still finding his rhythm. And last year, his first season as an everyday player, Morse started slow, too. In April 2011, Morse hit .211/.253/.268. For the rest of the season, he ranked among the best sluggers in the majors, finishing the year with a .303 average and 31 homers.
At the moment, Morse is essentially in his personal spring training. Johnson believes he has seen Morse pressing in an attempt to make up for lost time, trying too hard after missing two months.
“It’s different with a younger player trying to do too much, but basically it’s the same thing,” Johnson said. “You try to overcompensate. You haven’t been here in a while. You feel like you’ve got to hit two home runs the first game or something like that. Just see the ball and try to hit it, don’t try to kill it.”
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