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The Morse Effect

Jun 1, 2012, 1:12 PM EDT

Michael Morse could make his season debut for the Nationals tonight.

That decision hasn't officially been made yet, and it's possible the club will want the slugger to play at least one more game on his rehab assignment, get a few more at-bats and make a few more throws from the outfield before activating him off the disabled list.

But there's certainly a chance we'll see Morse in the lineup tonight against the Braves, or at worst within the next few days. And once he does rejoin the Nationals after missing nearly three months with a torn right lat muscle, his effect on the team should be profound.

Start, of course, with Morse's bat, which will be a welcome addition to a Nationals lineup that currently ranks 12th in the NL in batting average (.244) and on-base percentage (.313), ninth in slugging percentage (.394) and 13th in runs scored (192).

Now, it's probably too much to ask for Morse to step right in and immediately pick up where he left off at the end of his breakthroughRead more »

  1. LoveDaNats - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Michael posted this on his Facebook page yesterday."Finally…Opening Day has come. DC, I'll see you tomorrow night."So glad he's coming back.

  2. REW - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    My heart skipped a beat! So excited to see back!

  3. Theophilus T. S. - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Hope Johnson doesn't go double-switch happy. Hate seeing all of the offense chained to the bench.

  4. JamesFan - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    If he's going to start in Potomac, he might as well start for the Nats. He's in shape, a throw from the outfield is a throw from the outfield, and the sooner he sees ML pitching, the sooner he works the rust off. We need this guy in the lineup.

  5. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    WOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Someone is coming of the DL.. (didn't want to get too rusty).

  6. baseballswami - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    I didn't see much of him at Potomac that first night ( rain), but as much as I missed watching him hit, I realized that I miss seeing him every day with the team, too. He just has that great big smile and a joy of playing the game. He seems very hungry to get back and play. I hope he channels that into this cobra-bat. I found that comments from him interesting – that he thinks he has now learned how to throw from the outfield – learned it in rehab. So many of our guys come back from the DL in better shape or having learned/ fixed something. Now THAT is a silver lining!

  7. Uncle Atom - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Let the Gorse Hacking ensue!!

  8. Taino in DC - Jun 1, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I think the bigger story today is Strasburg.We need to see if he can gain control of his pitches and is able to go beyond 5 innings.His last 3 starts worry me.

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I'm with you 100% Taino. Stras has to regain his mojo. He's been exremely inefficient and show poor command of his fastball.I don't expect much out of Morse for the next week or so but I'm glad he's back.

  10. baseballswami - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I hope Strassie has control of his stuff but I am not eager for him to go a lot of innings. I would rather see him go 5 or 6 and leave – if there is a lead – and last longer into the season. Detweiler should be able to come in after him and go a couple of innings. The offense needs to give him a non-stressful game. But — it does seem like our guys sometimes pitch better when it's close. Guys – don't do that to your fans!!

  11. hiramhover - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    I'll be glad to see Morse back, and if this means seeing less of Ankiel at the plate, all the better. Even if Morse starts cold, it's hard to believe he could be much worse than Ankiel (.230/.281/.397 on the season, with a 70 wRC+ and 32% SO rate). As for the doubleswitches–they're fine if not used indiscriminately. Bringing in Ankiel as a late-inning defensive sub will make sense in some situations.

  12. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I don't like Stras pitching in the rain. If there is a single drop, let McCatty come out, do some "bench jockeying," whatever it takes. Also, Bernie, Desi, Ank–catch a fly ball, willya? Oh, right–Lombo, Brycie, Desi–catch a fly ball.

  13. SonnyG10 - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Hope to see the Beast back tonight.

  14. waddu eye no - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    SS – Rain tonight – easy on the ointmentgyfngbtw – insider party – such a cool idea. i'll be away, but always checking in on the site and the MLB app.

  15. fast eddie - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Morse missed all of spring training. He may need the month of June to regain his timing and batting eye. We need Zim, Laroche and others to end their slumps while waiting for Morse to contribute.

  16. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Not-Nats-Related, but this prank is funny. Creative.Prank

  17. waddu eye no - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    kris kline, scouting director, on draft (c/o nats site):"I hope a couple of teams do something kind of crazy where they take a player that forces the top of the Draft down to us, and I'm kind of counting on that," Kline said.jack nicholson:sell crazy someplace else. we're all stocked up here

  18. A DC Wonk - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Hope Johnson doesn't go double-switch happy.He hasn't in the past, no reason to think he'll do so now. (Unless you are thinking of the previous guy 😉I'm with you 100% Taino. Stras has to regain his mojo. He's been exremely inefficient and show poor command of his fastball.What we hear time and time again is that, for most pitchers, performance the year after TJ surgery is inconsistent — some good and some inexplicable outings where the control just isn't there. I suspect that's what Stras is going through.

  19. sm13 - Jun 1, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Agree with DCwonk on both counts. If this was Riggleman I'd be worrying about double switch madness, but not wIth Davey. As for Stras, I too believe this is the expected ups and downs post-TJ surgery. Not too different than what the Cards are seeing from Wainright. Welcome back Michael Morse! We've missed thr Beast!

  20. John C. - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Welcome back to Beast Mode. Having a lineup that goes six actual major league hitters deep (with Strasburg cleaning up in the #9 spot!) will be a refreshing novelty.One real question, though. Mark mentions Ankiel and Bernadina as defensive replacements. What about Corey Brown? If he doesn't get some playing time and a chance to steal the #4 OF/defensive replacement/LH bat off the bench from Ankiel and Bernadina, why bring him up? He has no options, so they can't send him back down without clearing him through waivers. And at his age (26) with the way he has hit in AAA since last July he's unlikely to get past the Houstons and Pittsburghs of the world.

  21. Section 215 Row A - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Section 215 Row A - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Let me try this again. I predicted LaRoche would have an incredibly slow start this year and that Harper would struggle mightily in his first season in the bigs. I now think it will take weeks for Morse to return to form. Here's hoping I can go oh for three in my prognostications.

  23. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    @John C.,Clearly they have to find a way to start playing Brown semi-regularly. My guess is still : a trade is in the offing involving one of the many left-handed outfielders in the fold as mentioned on the MASN blog. They now have Erik Komatsu, Xavier Paul, and Mark Teahen … all left-handed bats in AAA Syracuse. Komatsu and Teahen are decent fielders.Guess we'll have to wait and see what happens.

  24. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    My Prediction: Maldanado goes on the DL or back to Cuse when Morse is activited.

  25. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Still think Morse should bat 3rd after Harper. Zim should move to 5th/6th until the shoulder completely heals.

  26. Steady Eddie - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    For those (Fast eddie and NatsJack) above who are concerned about how long it will take for Morse to get his plate timing back, I would just observe that I saw the last of his few ST ABs (crushed double) and then a month later, several of his few early April ABs with the Senators (including a double and HR). So I'm not sure it will take him more than a few games to get it back in gear, as he had only a few ABs in either case after long absences and was quick to refocus. I'll be the first to admit that early ST ABs and AA ABs and pitching are not the same as in the Show, but that really goes more to how many mistakes Morse would see in MLB rather than his capacity to connect with one when he sees it, or to hunt marginal strikes in all the right places. Not necessarily making a prediction, just an observation. Obviously accompanied by a lot of hope, but not groundless hope. Apart from a tendency to go fishing low and away, he's been a pretty selective hitter and has learned a lot about adjusting his swing to what's offered, so it's not unrealistic to hope for full Beast Mode by the time the Green Monster comes in sight, if not sooner.And let's also hope for continued meatballs thrown by the Bravos' staff. On the down side, Medlen has gotten sent down so we won't have him to feast on this series; on the bright side, they've sent him down to try to become a starter, which says a lot about the state of their rotation.

  27. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    My Prediction: Maldanado goes on the DL or back to Cuse when Morse is activated.Michelle, yes eventually … eventually they will again DFA 290 pound 30+ Maldonado risking the waivers gambling he won't get claimed and the outright assign him to Syracuse. But that will come later … after Sandy Leon proves he is completely healthy again and safely optioned and ensconced in AAA Syracuse as the starting catcher. The move today will likely be relief pitcher Ryan Perry who still has an option remaining and that they have been using this season. He has been used the least of all the bullpen pitchers. With the addition of Detwiler to the bullpen the Nats now have plenty of relievers with six. And Davey had said earlier on that he would move to a six man bullpen.Maldonado will continue to alternate with Solano until Flores is deemed completely healthy and ready to go. He will remain as insurance until Sandy Leon is off of the DL. Then Leon will be a phone call away from a call-up.

  28. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Peric.. the reports of Maldonado's back issue will put him on the DL. It's an easy out.

  29. hiramhover - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    [Corey Brown] has no options, so they can't send him back down without clearing him through waiversIs that correct? I don't understand the rules that well, but I thought that the option applies to the whole season, not an individual roster move. So while he has used an option this year, he can still be moved up and down over the season and only use one option.Whether Brown should be getting more playing time is another matter–seems to me he should, but if he stays in the majors, whom do you sit in order to play him–Lombo?

  30. Steady Eddie - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    John C. @ 11:16 — I agree with you that Davey should make an effort to get Brown more starts, which they could do in half the games just by sitting Lombo and then Espi one out of four games. (That is, Lombo goes to 2B and Espi sits one out of four games, letting Brown go to LF, then Lombo sits one out of four. Or giving Zim a rest every fifth game and moving Lombo to 3B.) I know we all want Lombo to move to 2B half the time or more but Davey's not going to do that unless Espi demonstrates he can't get it together by the end of this month.By the way, though, Brown's option lasts all year — they don't burn it with one promotion. But given he's shown that he's mastered AAA, they should give him a fair chance, especially when Werth's absence is a perfect opportunity to do so, and when Brown's capacity to replace Ankiel and/or Shark lets us package one or both of them with Lannan to restock the farm system.

  31. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Corey has options, I think we had an insider confirm that with his agent.

  32. UnkyD - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    mikey morse, hacks the gorseBEAST MODEBEAST MODEmikey morse, hacks the gorseBEAST MODEBEAST MODEmikey morse, hacks the gorseBEAST MODEBEAST MODE

  33. Steady Eddie - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    peric @ 11:40 — I think you've laid out the current picture pretty well at C and the BP, especially because the trade for Perry was to have his option which Balester lacked.Interesting challenge with the BP is what happens when Druuuuuuu gets back.

  34. hiramhover - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Steady – jinx!Brown's capacity to replace Ankiel and/or Shark lets us package one or both of them with Lannan to restock the farm systemBut what do you get in return for that package–the undying hatred of some other team's fans?

  35. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Corey has options, I think we had an insider confirm that with his agent.That is great news if he does. They should try to see what he's got before giving up on him.

  36. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Yes, Corey has options. The issue is if they removed him from the 40 man but that would make no sense.Only way you send back Maldanado is if Flores is healthy.

  37. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    I nominate Unk for Post of the Day. So let it be written, so it shall be done. :-)

  38. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Peric.. the reports of Maldonado's back issue will put him on the DL. It's an easy out.Depends on who they deem healthier: Maldonado or Flores. Both have issues and Flores, again, is coming off a long and arduous almost 3 year rehab from a shoulder. Is he ready to play 155 games at catcher at the major league level? I wouldn't bet on it. But, Solano on the other hand?Both Maldonado AND Solano have back issues. Solano was on the Syracuse DL for an extended period of time with back/neck issues. Its why they went for Sandy Leon when Ramos went down. Maldonado should stay as the third catcher. It allows them to use Flores as a right-handed bat off the bench … as well as Solano and Maldonado. They have plenty of speed and bats. They need catching insurance right now.

  39. JamesFan - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Stras hasn't proven to be a mudder or to handle the heat well. Too many years in the perfect 72 degree sunny environment in San Diego. He definately has been struggling with his control and he does not seem comfortable on the hill right now. Hope it changes tonight.

  40. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Ghost.. All accounts from the Beats is that Flores is healthy (crossing fingers), but Maldanado – per Amanda- is dealing with a back issue.I think the bigger issue is what do you do with Bernie/Ank/Nady? They have some moves they can make with Morse coming back, but what happens when DeRosa comes back? Then you have Werth and HOPEFULLY Tracy. We are into week 4 of the Werth DL, he should start rehab in 2 weeks.

  41. Drew - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    My prediction:On gappers, Lombo races over and becomes Morse's first cutoff man. The Nats take a lesson from the Spurs' great teamwork: Make the extra pass!:) Welcome back, Mikey.

  42. JB - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    off topic, but holy smokes, Mark posted 134 times last month, easily a record for NI in any month. LOVE all the content.But Mark, remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint :)NatinBeantown very excited to see the NatsinBeantown next week!

  43. pRAA - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Interesting challenge with the BP is what happens when Druuuuuuu gets back.Lidge will be back before Storen.

  44. baseballswami - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I remember hearing Jordan talk about the first year after tj – the inconsistency , tiredness, sometime lack of control. Strassie, for all of his great stuff, is a relatively inexperienced pitcher – which means when he doesn't have his best stuff, he struggles to figure out how to get guys out. I think on the nights he is "on" – he should try to go 6 or 7 and the nights he is"off" he should only go 5 to save good innings for later. What's the point of using up innings that are not productive?

  45. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Weather not looking good. According to WaPo, the storm for tonight has been upgraded to "moderate risk" (happens once or twice a year in this area." So–A moderate risk day indicates that more widespread and/or more dangerous severe weather is possible…with significant severe weather often more likely. Numerous tornadoes (including some strong tornadoes), more widespread or severe wind damage and very large/destructive hail could occur. Major events, such as large tornado outbreaks, are sometimes also possible on moderate risk days, but with greater uncertainty.

  46. Section 215 Row A - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Peric said:"Both have issues and Flores, again, is coming off a long and arduous almost 3 year rehab from a shoulder. Is he ready to play 155 games at catcher at the major league level? I wouldn't bet on it."Flores has played in only 26 of the first 50 and if plays 5 out of every 6 the rest of the way he will approach 120 total games. So I guess Peric's right…playing 155 is not too likely.

  47. Ron In Reston - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Going back to yesterday's post, unfortunately I won't be able to make the First NI Party. I have a gig from 615 to 745 and my daughter has one starting at about 8 (luckily five minutes from mine). Here's hoping there will be more of these in the future, possibly even one here in NoVa, so we suburbanites don't have to fight the masses trying to get downtown by 6pm.As for tonight, I don't see a game happening. The forecast is horrendous, specifically from 7-10pm, you know, right when we would be playing. If the earlier thunderstorms show up and dupm enough, maybe they'll call it early, so there's no start-and-stop-and-start-and-stop again to the game that basically burns a Strasburg start.

  48. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Not saying Rizzo should cancel now, because if he does it won't rain. (Is he still here in marathon draft meetings or has the draft crew already left?)But be careful out there, our boys are precious to us. I guess it's not possible to have a platoon split where only rains on the Barves…

  49. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    I think that division of precipitation would be known as a platoon "spit." :-)But be careful out there, our boys are precious to us. I guess it's not possible to have a platoon split where only rains on the Barves…

  50. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    In other Nats news:Ushers enforcing the rules

  51. Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa - Jun 1, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Michele, thanks for that link, and good news. The "fan feedback" the decision was based on would include mine. I have the power!!

  52. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    From our Fearless Leader:Mark Zuckerman‏@MarkZuckermanIf you're coming to #Nats Park tonight, might want to bring your portable hurricane survival kit.

  53. Grandstander - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    RE: UshersI've talked with the usher in my section about that a lot. Really glad to see they listened to the fans on this one and will enforce it again. There's no reason why people who pay good money for seats have to be interrupted by people who don't understand stadium etiquette.

  54. Tcostant - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    What a racket, catch a game or two and draw a major league salary for the next fews weeks or two months. Three catchers on the DL drawing major league salaries and service time. I'm just saying…

  55. #4 - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Agree on the fan movement. I only wish it was more restrictive – say movement only between innings. It appears this policy allows movement between batters.

  56. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Flores has played in only 26 of the first 50 and if plays 5 out of every 6 the rest of the way he will approach 120 total games. So I guess Peric's right…playing 155 is not too likely.Excluding playoffs and the cold weather that comes with them right?

  57. Section 222 - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Good news on the ushers' new charge. Kalvin in sec 313/314 has been doing this all along in a kind and non-confrontational way, without problems. But I do wonder how well it will work in the lower bowl where the sections have many, many more rows. It certainly seems like someone could start their journey from the concourse in between batters, but reach their row well after play has resumed. Will be interested in reports from fans in those sections, especially in rows close to the field.

  58. Candide - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Re: Ushers again…Cunegonde and I have seats right on the aisle. I've taken to doing my own traffic control; last game we were at, a family of three or four started to walk in front of me just as the pitcher was in his windup for his first pitch to Harper.I held my arm out to stop dad, said, "Wait a second…" and then after the pitch, let them go. What was nice was that they totally understood what I was doing and why.

  59. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    — Creating new handles or avatars that mimic, mention or disparage other posters or myself.Mark,Please delete all postings by pRAA who I am assuming is the same individual who took the liberty of using my handle in disparaging and derogatory ways.pRAA is the stat I used to demonstrate that John Lannan was not and is not the pitcher most thought he was. Its why he is using it, the implication is clear.

  60. natsfan1a - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    As others have noted, great news re. ushers actually enforcing the existing rules (hope it will be for vendors as well as for fans :-)). I don't mind people moving around between batters. It's movement during an at-bat that's been the issue for me.

  61. That old-school, prestigious way of Scooter - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Yeah, the ushers can only do what they can do. Someone will still annoy you, but this should be better.Also, I've gotten the distinct impression that the weather isn't listening to us. If they play, fine. If not, the sword.

  62. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Dan Kolko made a valid point about Ryan Perry … HRod got his finger stuck in the door … making Perry less expendable but also making HRod a potential DL candidate for Morse.

  63. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Tornado spotted, and warning out in Germantown area, if that's you, get off the computer and take cover!! The rest of us can handle the discussion, such as it is.

  64. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Probably the roster move decision coming momentarily.

  65. peric - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    The tornado might be Mikey … at least let's hope!

  66. UnkyD - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    So…. Who's gonna be at the game, on Sunday? This'll be my introduction to Nats Park!! No idea where I'll be sitting, but my ex&her hubby have friends , who's son will be tossing the first pitch, and there were extra tix, so I'll be there fairly early… Hope to see some of you!(oh…and thanks 1A!)

  67. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    I will be at the game Sunday, sec 304. Maybe it will be a doubleheader.

  68. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Severe thunderstorm warning for the route I am take to work… Sheesh. (Grew up in Chicago and Southern Illinois, don't take tornadoes lightly.)

  69. baseballswami - Jun 1, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    Maybe the storms will come and go early? Great news about the ushers – will it happen? They have been very lax about that type thing but they are all over you if you even hover near a seat that is not yours – especially in some sections. Although I , personally, would NEVER try to upgrade my seats…… ( ahem, cough, cough). Ron in Reston — I second the motion about a Nats Insider party in NOVA – getting to the district on a weekday at that time could prove iffy. I will try, though. GO Nats!!!!!Let's get back on the winning track!

  70. MicheleS - Jun 1, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    So just from the Nats PR.. Dierks Bently had to cancel due to a serious illness in the family, So Tomorrow Nights Concert will be Big and Rich.

  71. AceSmith - Jun 1, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Without a doubt they will start off with a win against minor that giuys has been terrible this year so i wrote all about it on my blog and how to bet it!

  72. UnkyD - Jun 1, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. Candide - Jun 1, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Got this email from the city of Alexandria's eNews service:Tornado Watch in Effect Until 9 P.M. for the City of AlexandriaThe National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for the entire Washington, DC metropolitan region, including the City of Alexandria until 9 p.m. today, June 1. Thunderstorms will be capable of producing damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes. A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Residents should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and watch for later weather statements and possible warnings. The City of Alexandria is monitoring weather conditions and will respond appropriately as conditions warrant.

  74. NatsLady - Jun 1, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    Made it to my studio without adventures, not even rain. Don't know how many students will come… Take care all.

  75. Unknown - Jun 1, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    Agree with Peric on Zim – even at his best – which he isn't – he's a below average #3 hitter by MLB standards – he's much better hitting 5th.



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