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.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.