The Nationals were forced to run Mark DeRosa and Roger Bernadina out there on Opening Day against the Cubs, but they have some reinforcements on the way.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel both homered last night in a minor league rehab game with Double-A Harrisburg.
Morse, who is recovering from a right lat muscle strain, went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run as the designated hitter. Ankiel, who is coming back from a quad injury, went 1-for-3 with a home run while playing center field. Morse is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday against the Mets while Ankiel could return as soon as next Friday against the Reds.
Morse is obviously of more importance here, as he has quietly been the most potent bat in the Nationals’ lineup for the past two seasons. It’s hard to imagine Davey Johnson’s squad making a serious run at the playoffs if he isn’t healthy.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.