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Mike Morse waiting to learn fate as Nationals’ fallback option

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On the strength of hitting .289 with 15 homers in 266 at-bats as a part-timer Mike Morse emerged as a possible everyday player for the Nationals in 2011, but Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com writes that his role hinges on whether they sign a veteran first baseman.

Washington has been linked to just about every free agent first baseman on the market, so Morse’s chances of heading into Opening Day with a starting spot seem slim, but for now he serves as a fallback option at first base who could also shift to the outfield to platoon with Roger Bernadina.

Of course, as well as Morse hit in limited action last season he’s hardly a sure thing to be a productive regular. For one thing he’s 29 years old and has never received even 300 plate appearances in a season, spending 2006-2009 primarily in the minors. For another thing his numbers at Triple-A are much closer to good than great, as he hit .292 with a .354 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage in 307 games.

Whether or not the Nationals would be smart to sign a veteran first baseman like Derrek Lee or Adam LaRoche is up for debate, but whatever happens Morse is likely best suited for a part-time gig.

Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2017 option vests, but salary still undetermined

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13: Hisashi Iwakuma #18 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the third inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 13, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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With last Wednesday’s start against the Yankees, Mariners hurler Hisashi Iwakuma pushed his 2016 innings total up to 2016. That clears the 162-inning hurdle for his 2017 option to vest at $14 million. However, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reports, the language in Iwakuma’s contract also stipulates that the right-hander finish the season without suffering a specific injury.

Iwakuma, 35, was in agreement with the Dodgers on a three-year contract back in December but failed the physical, which nullified the deal. He ended up signing with the Mariners on a one-year, $12 million deal with a full no-trade clause and club options for 2017 and ’18 that vest at specific inning thresholds (162 each or 324 for both seasons).

This season, Iwakuma has stayed healthy, making 26 starts to the tune of a 14-9 record, a 3.81 ERA and a 118/36 K/BB ratio in 163 innings.

Ichiro Suzuki passes Wade Boggs for 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 28: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Miami Marlins grounds out during the 2nd inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park on August 28, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Eric Espada/Getty Images
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Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki deposited a single to left-center field in the fourth inning of Monday night’s game against the Mets, then added a double to center field in the eighth. Those mark hits No. 3,010 and 3,011 for Suzuki in his major league career, tying and then moving past Wade Boggs for sole possession of 27th on baseball’s all-time hits list.

Suzuki would come around to score on a double by Xavier Scruggs to break a scoreless tie in the eighth.

Here’s the video of Ichiro’s first hit.

By the end of the season, Suzuki will have presumably moved ahead of Rafael Palmeiro (26th; 3,020) and Lou Brock (25th; 3,023).

Suzuki was 2-for-4 after the double. With baseball’s fifth month nearly complete, the 42-year-old is currently batting .298/.371/.373.