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Like Werth, Morse waited for opportunity

Mar 16, 2011, 3:38 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Michael Morse seized the left fielder’s job with an impressive spring.

Three years ago, Jayson Werth’s career was at a crossroads. Despite physical gifts and some mild success in the big leagues, the then-28-year-old outfielder still hadn’t been given a chance to establish himself as an everyday player.

Everyone knows what has happened since. Finally given an opportunity by the Philadelphia Phillies, Werth saw his career take off. He won a World Series ring, made the All-Star team for the first time and parlayed it all into a $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

Through it all, Werth had something of a secret admirer from another ballplayer who likewise was still waiting for his opportunity to arrive. Michael Morse watched Werth from afar and wondered if a similar fate might await him.

“I’ve followed his whole career,” Morse said last month in Viera, Fla. “That’s what a lot of people compare me to. I get excited when somebody says: ‘You remind me of Jayson Werth.’ That makes me feel like I’m doing the right things.”

Read more about Morse, who has now all but locked up the left field job, on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Anonymous - Mar 16, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    I think at the end of the year we'll all wonder why we didn't give him a full-time shot sooner.

  2. Steve M. - Mar 16, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    "Jayson Werth is a guy I look at. I look at his hitting, his play in right field, especially last year. Half the reason I wore number 28 was because of Jayson Werth," Morse said. "And now he's here. It's even better. I get to learn from him and move over to left. I'm excited."Nice article Mark and I still think that the "Mike Morse" fan club was started here on NatsInsider last year.The above quotes from Morse sound cheesy but the guy is very sincere and down to earth. Just a regular guy with the good fortunes of being athletically gifted. There are few that I want to succeed more than Michael Morse.

  3. Doc - Mar 16, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Mark, thanks for the article on Mickey Morse. I suppose he had to prove himself to Nats' staff, but he's always had a solid following on the Nats Insider since he appeared in the latter part of the 2009 season. In spite of criticism by some reporters, it always seemed that he was always doing more than some of the more highly regarded Nats studs. Regardless, Morse maintained his competitive attitude, and did his job better than the competition.Let's hope he remains healthy and continues to surprise people!

  4. Theophilus - Mar 16, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    I'm not wanting to predict disaster but I like the way Riggleman has spotted Morse at 3B and 1B this Spring. Beyond Hairston, the Nats don't have any infield depth in the organization (high minors), let alone the ML level, in the event of a long-term injury. On the other hand, there are several experienced or soon-to-be ready outfielders. I'm perfectly happy w/ Morse in LF on a day-to-day basis but the ability to slide him in at 3B or 1B in the event of an emergency is comforting.

  5. Dave - Mar 16, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    I'll never forget standing in about section 103 or 102 during batting practice right after Langerhans was traded away. I could barely make out who was batting in the turtleshell. This new guy wearing #28 came up to bat and just hammered ball after ball into the stands, all around the stadium.Morse made a strong impression on me that day, and he still does.

  6. Section 222 - Mar 16, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Steve M. is right about commenters here being behind Morse long before Riggleman came around. I remember two times last year in particular — when Willie Harris was scheduled to DH in an AL park instead of Morse and when Riggleman doubleswitched him out of the game after he hit two home runs. The crowd in here went ballistic. All year long, the numbers showed he could hit righties as well as lefties. It's great to see him getting the opportunity he deserves and taking advantage of it.

  7. Anonymous - Mar 16, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    "I mean, there's no one in this game that doesn't want to play every day," he said. "If somebody tells you they don't want to play every day, they're either lying to you or they shouldn't even be playing."Tell that to Matt Stairs… :-)

  8. Will - Mar 16, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Theophilus,There's Alex Cora and Brian Bixler as backup infield options. Also, Steve Lombardozzi isn't too far off either. Hopefully, he'll start the season in AAA, and if all goes well, he could be a call-up option after the All Star break.

  9. JoeyP - Mar 16, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Curious if Morse ended up working out differently over the off-season. He seems even in better shape and focused this year.

  10. Theophilus - Mar 16, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Will — I'm talking about when you have to put somebody in a spot for 30-40 games. (Heaven forbid.) Cora, Bixler aren't the answer. And I don't think Lombardozzi has hit a ball out of the infield since he turned professional. He might have a major league glove but he also might turn out to be the next Alex Cora. Count me deeply skeptical about him.

  11. sjm 308 - Mar 16, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    The other issue is we will only have 25 men so I agree with Theo. If we have 5 SP 7 RP our 8 postion players & a backup catcher that leaves just 4 on the bench. I am guessing its Hairston, the two runners up for CF and for some reason they really talk like its going to be Stairs (I would go for Cora or Nix). Anyway, the fact that Morse can play the corner infield is reassuring and all 3 of our CF'rs can play left if need be. Its nice to have these kind of issues. I do have one question, why do we need to carry 7 relief pitchers??

  12. mjr - Mar 16, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    JoeyP, I think I remember Michael Morse saying that he was going to be working out with Pudge over the winter. 'Nuf said if that's what happened.

  13. xlpharmacy - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    of course and who don't make something similar to this, I mean with that money amount in front of you, you know the old phrase, "for the money, dance the monkey".

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