Michael Morse (lat strain) shut down for at least a week

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An MRI taken recently on Michael Morse’s strained right lat muscle revealed no significant structural damage. But that positive development hasn’t really meant all that much for the 29-year-old slugger.

According to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Morse won’t be cleared to resume baseball activities “for at least a week” due to lingering discomfort on his right side.

Morse suffered the lat strain at the beginning of this month. He tried to return to Grapefruit League play last week as a designated hitter, but that experiment didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.

There’s no concern yet about Morse being unavailable for Opening Day, but that could certainly change if he’s unable to fit in enough playing time in exhibition games. He batted .303/.360/.550 with 31 home runs, 36 doubles and 95 RBI across 575 plate appearances last season for the third-place Nationals.

Adam LaRoche has also been shut down for the next several days because of ankle discomfort.

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UPDATE, 12:13 PM: Ladson clarifies that Morse and LaRoche “are not expected to play in a major league exhibition game for at least a week.” So the two can presumably take part in drills and such.

Max Fried loses to Braves in salary arbitration

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried lost to the Atlanta Braves in salary arbitration and will make $13.5 million in the upcoming season instead of his $15 million request.

Mark Burstein, Fredric Horowitz and Jeanne Vonhof issued their decision a day after hearing arguments.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year in arbitration instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal.

He followed former Atlanta teammate Dansby Swanson in going to a hearing in consecutive years. Swanson, a shortstop, lost in 2021 and won last year, then signed a seven-year, $177 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

The last player to win hearings in consecutive years was pitcher Trevor Bauer against Cleveland in 2018 and 2019.

Fried, a 29-year-old left-hander, went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2021, Fried pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.