The Nationals suffered a significant blow when they learned Michael Morse would rest a strained lat for six weeks before even starting to rehab for a return. But, as Morse revealed today in an interview, it could have been far more devastating.
Last week, Morse went to visit Dr. James Andrews, the renowned surgeon, in Pensacola, Fla. As he sat in the waiting room, he believed he might undergo surgery on his lat that would sideline him for the nine to 12 months, the entire season and then some.
“It was a scary two hours,” Morse said.
Andrews, according to Morse, gave a second opinion that offered him a reprieve from what Nationals doctors feared might be necessary. Rather than undergoing the major surgery, Morse would rest for six weeks. “He was like, ‘Surgery? You don’t need surgery.’ ” Morse said. While at Andrews’ office, Morse also received a second platelet-rich plasma injection to augment his recovery.
Morse described his lat injury as unique to position players. He said doctors told him roughly 10 pitchers had sustained this specific strain, including White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, but no other position players. If he suffered the same injury as Peavy, then Morse did not simply strain his lat. He strained the tendon that connects the muscle to the underside of his shoulder.
That explained why Morse could swing a bat, but had complications when he threw. The Nationals rested Morse throughout spring training and he no longer felt the strain by April 9, when he reported for a minor league rehab game in Class A Hagerstown.
Morse had actually anticipated traveling to New York that day and then making his big league season debut the next night, his first game eligible to come off the disabled list. “It was going to be opening day,” Morse said. The Nationals, though, wanted him to play a full nine innings once.
So Morse played. It was a cold night, which General Manager Mike Rizzo later partly attributed to what happened: Morse re-aggravated the injury making a throw from left field, which led to the initial diagnosis of surgery and Morse’s trip to Andrews.
The news he received in Andrews’ waiting room relieved Morse, but it did not decrease the boredom he’s feeling now. Morse is trying to keep a low profile in the Nationals’ clubhouse. Today, he ran stairs at Nationals Park. Nationals trainers have barred him from any baseball activity, or any exercise that requires the use of his upper body.
He cannot play, which makes him miserable. But he also knows it could have been much, much worse.