The Nationals initially called Michael Morse day-to-day after he was diagnosed with a mild strain of his right lat muscle early last week. He returned to the lineup as the designated hitter on Monday and Tuesday, but it’s clear he’s not out of the woods yet.
Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com reports that Morse recently underwent an MRI which showed no further damage, but that he’ll get at bats on the minor league side for now instead of playing in Grapefruit League games. The 30-year-old is expected to serve as the Nationals’ starting left fielder this season, but he has yet to play in the field this spring due to the injury.
Morse has emerged as the most potent bat in the Nationals’ lineup over the past two seasons, hitting .298/.357/.539 with 46 homers and an .896 OPS in 244 games. It would be a big blow to the Nats’ chances if the injury lingers into the regular season.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.