After missing the first 50 games with a strained lat muscle Mike Morse is off the disabled list and hitting cleanup for the Nationals tonight in his season debut.
During the past two-and-a-half seasons Morse quietly emerged as one of the NL’s best bats, hitting .295 with 49 homers and an .889 OPS in 276 total games after the Nationals acquired him from the Mariners for Ryan Langerhans in mid-2009.
In addition to cleaning up Morse is also playing right field, where he saw zero time last season. He does have 74 career starts there, 64 of which came in 2010 for the Nationals. Xavier Nady is in left field, with Bryce Harper starting in center field for the eighth time in his first 31 games.
Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.
Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.
At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.