Mike Morse stating his case for starting left field job

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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.

Report: Yankees close to signing Gio González to minor league deal

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Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are close to signing starter Gio González. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the deal is of the minor league variety that will pay González $3 million if he makes the major league roster.

González, 33, made 27 starts for the Nationals before being sent to the Brewers ahead of the now-defunct August 31 waiver trade deadline. In aggregate, González went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and a 148/80 K/BB ratio in 171 innings. He was solid in his five starts with the Brewers, going 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA.

Neither Luis Severino nor CC Sabathia will be ready for the start of the season, so González will add some immediate depth at the back of the Yankees’ rotation. Sabathia will likely return before Severino. When that happens, González may be pushed out of the rotation.