Michael Morse could be back with the Nationals at the start of June

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Here’s some rare good news for the Nationals on the injury front.

The original goal was for Michael Morse to be ready to return from his torn right lat on June 8 so he could be eased back into the lineup as the designated hitter during interleague play, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com today that the 30-year-old slugger hopes be ready as soon as June 1.

“That was my day [June 8],” Johnson said. “I threw that out there trying to give the trainers and the doctors a date that I wanted him back swinging, because he could DH against the American League clubs on the eighth. We’d been set for that for about three weeks, and he came to me and said: ‘When you come off the road trip, I’ll be ready.’ But he’s feeling his oats.”

Morse has only recently resumed swinging a bat and playing catch after being shut down in April, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready by then. He plans to go to extended spring training in Viera, Florida next week to get some at-bats and could head out on a minor league rehab assignment from there if all goes well.

Morse, 30, has a .298/.357/.539 batting line to go along with 46 homers, 136 RBI and an .896 OPS in 244 games dating back to the start of the 2010 season. He should provide a major boost to the Nationals’ offense, as their left fielders enter tonight’s action with a major-league worst .154 batting average and .511 OPS.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.