Mike Morse making season debut as Nationals cleanup man after missing 50 games

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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.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.