Nearly halfway through his six-week mandated shutdown as he rehabilitates an re-injured right lat muscle strain, Michael Morse, the Nationals’ best slugger who has yet to play this season, said he is on track and “feels good.”
“I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” Morse said before Wednesday’s game.
In mid-April, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo completely shut down Morse for six weeks, slating him for a possible return to total activity near the end of May. Morse said he is hoping to be back in time for the team’s games against American League teams in early June so he could serve as a designated hitter. The Nationals begin a series against the Boston Red Sox on June 8.
“I’m hoping [to be back to DH],” he said. “That sounds like where I should be at.”
Already missing star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ offense desperately needs Morse back in the lineup. Last season, Morse smacked 31 homer runs and hit .303 before earning a two-year, $10 million extension.
Without Morse, the Nationals offense has scored only 75 runs in 23 games, tied with the Miami Marlins near the bottom of the majors. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates have scored less (65 runs). In addition, only the San Diego Padres (12) and Chicago Cubs (nine) have hit fewer home runs than the Nationals’ 13.
Morse said he wasn’t sure when he would start hitting and throwing, which caused the most discomfort before. Morse was rehabbing the injury at Class A Hagerstown in the hope of starting opening day for the Nationals when he struggled to throw the ball from left field on April 9 and pulled himself out of the game. He hasn’t thrown or hit since, he said.
Morse said he has been running a lot, including running the stairs of Nationals Park as he did on Tuesday as normal.
“I lift and train the other side of my body,” he said. “But now, I just have to let it heal. They say it’s kind of like glue. If you don’t let it set and keep picking at it, it’s not going to heal.”