In the third inning of Tuesday night’s win over the Rockies, Michael Morse gave himself another reason to believe he’s getting back to himself after he missed the season’s first 50 games. He came to the plate with men on base and two outs, and when he got a fastball, he clobbered it off the right-center field fence for a two-run double.
“I was aggressive in a situation I might not want to be aggressive,” Morse said. “That’s how I am. I don’t think. I just react.”
The double was the keystone of Morse’s 4-for-5 night, his best game of the 22 he has played since returning from a strained lat muscle. Morse began his season 14 for 72 (.209) and even asked Manager Davey Johnson to move him down in the lineup. He had said he was searching for consistency, and now, as Tuesday night showed, he is beginning to find it.
“I’m starting to feel like I’m taking my swing from the cage to BP to the game, and it’s coming together,” Morse said. “Before, it was kind of like searching a little bit. It would feel a little different when I got in the batter’s box. It might be using my legs too much. I might be gripping the bat too hard. Something didn’t feel right. Now I’m starting to relax more.”
Johnson believes Morse has yet to return to his best form, which last year enabled him to hit .303 with 31 homers. Morse has been consistently hammering the ball to right field, but he has yet to pull the ball with much success. He thrives when he hits the ball to the opposite field, but Johnson wants to see more balance.
“I still don’t think he’s exactly where he needs to be,” Johnson said. “He’s basically hit most of his balls hard the other way. When he’s hitting the ball hard all over, then I know his timing is really, really good. I’ll know he’s seeing the ball, hitting the ball hard basically where it’s pitched. It’s not easy to be out two or three months and then go out and start hitting.”
Even after his four hits last night, Morse is still hitting .250/.269/.352 over 93 plate appearances. He expected he would need time to start hitting like he’s capable.
“From going from nothing for nine weeks to playing in the big leagues, the highest caliber, it’s kind of tough,” Morse said. “If I came back and was hitting .500, then I should be a 10-time all-star.”