Morse was hit on the right hand by a pitch in his first at-bat on Aug. 24 against the Philadelphia Phillies, which caused him to miss the rest of the game and the following two games. He returned on Aug. 28 against the Miami Marlins and has played everyday since.
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said he heard, through the team trainer, that Morse had complained about the thumb and hand where he was hit. Morse told Johnson he felt fine to play but Johnson refused.
“I knew their pitcher was going to pound him in, and I didn’t want to aggravate it worse,” Johnson said. “He didn’t want to come out. I just said, ‘You’re coming out.’ I don’t need you aggravating.”
After the game, Morse said he was unsure why he was pulled: “My hand feels good.”
Jayson Werth, who has been nursing a cramping in his hamstring, started and completed Monday’s game but ran gingerly to first base on a groundout in the fifth inning. Werth left in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game and didn’t play Sunday, even though he said was capable of playing late if needed.
“With the night off and a full day tomorrow, he should be okay,” Johnson said.
Adam LaRoche, the Nationals leading power hitter, is still dealing with a sore back that held him out of Sunday’s lineup. He pinch hit on Sunday and started Monday, playing a full nine innings, which he said keeps his back warm and loose.
“It wasn’t great today,” LaRoche said. “Honestly, I think it’s worse sitting than out there playing. When I sit 15, 20 minutes, it gets really tight. So I’m better out there moving around. But it’s not bad.”
If needed, Johnson could rest all three players, or some of them, against the Cubs, a team out of playoff contention. The Nationals have three more game remaining against them and then the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, both teams with losing records.