UPDATE: So much for returning Thursday. Kilgore reports that Morse “felt soreness throwing last night” and is now “out indefinitely.”
Assuming that nothing goes wrong when he plays nine innings in left field at Single-A tonight and tomorrow Michael Morse is scheduled to return from the disabled list and rejoin the Nationals’ lineup Thursday.
Morse is actually eligible to return from his lat injury tomorrow, but manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that “I don’t see any sense in rushing him up here” and “I would just as soon him not make the trip, stay there and get treatment, then be ready to go Thursday.”
Kilgore reports that Rick Ankiel is also very close to coming off the disabled list after missing time with a triceps injury, although his role in the Nationals outfield is unclear.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.