Many argued that Mike Morse deserved a larger role with the Nationals after he batted .289/.352/.519 with 15 homers in 266 at-bats as a part-time player last season, but he came into camp without a clear path to playing time following the offseason additions of Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and Rick Ankiel.
Let’s just say he’s trying to force his way into the lineup.
Including a two-run homer off A.J. Burnett earlier this afternoon, Morse is batting .481 (13-for-27) with five home runs, two doubles and nine RBI this spring.
It’s tough to put too much emphasis on spring training statistics, but Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com this morning that Morse has already made an impression.
“He’s gotten an opportunity, and he’s taken the bull by the horns,” Rizzo said. “If opening day was tomorrow, he certainly would be our opening day left fielder.”
Of course, the right-handed hitting Morse is no lock to be a productive everyday player. Though he batted .287 against right-handed pitching last season, an encouraging sign in limited duty, the 28-year-old has never received more than total 300 plate appearances in a single season in the majors. He’s also a below-average defender in the outfield.
Assuming the Nationals let Morse sink or swim in left field — and really, they might as well see what they have here — that would mean Ankiel and/or Roger Bernadina would have to wrestle the center field job away from Nyjer Morgan.
This is totally unexpected and definitely unfortunate: The New York Yankees just released a statement from CC Sabathia saying that he is checking himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Sabathia, who was involved in a relatively minor incident outside a nightclub back in August, has battled injuries and ineffectiveness for the past three seasons but has, in his last few starts, shown himself to be effective, even if he’s not to the level he once was. And, should the Yankees advance past the Wild Card game, one would have assumed that the Yankees would’ve been counting on him for the playoff rotation. Now, however, that seems both doubtful and completely superfluous.
And for what it’s worth, Sabathia’s statement, just released by the Yankees, suggests that he is aware of the need to get his priorities in order:
“Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease.
“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.
“I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.
“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.
“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.
“I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”
Here’s hoping Sabathia deals with whatever problems he’s facing and comes out healthy on the other end.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have fired pitching coach Mike Harkey following a season in which the staff ranked ninth among NL teams in runs allowed.
That actually represents a big improvement from last season, when the Diamondbacks allowed the second-most runs in the league in Harkey’s first year as pitching coach, but the Tony La Russa-led front office has decided to make a change.
Prior to joining the Diamondbacks two offseasons ago Harkey served as the Yankees’ bullpen coach from 2008-2013. He pitched eight seasons in the majors.