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: Shin-Soo Choo hits a historic walk-off home run

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Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo hit one for the history books on Saturday as he fueled the team’s 4-3 win over the Royals with a walk-off home run in the 10th. The homer — a leadoff solo shot off of a Kevin McCarthy fastball — was Choo’s eighth of the year and 176th of his career, giving him the edge over Hideki Matsui for the most MLB home runs by an Asian-born player.

Exactly what happened to the ball afterwards is still a bit of a mystery, though the Rangers put out a PSA after the game’s dramatic finish. It doesn’t look like anyone has stepped forward with the ball just yet.

Choo, 35, is off to a solid start this season. While he’s nowhere near the .276-average, 3.4+ fWAR totals of years past, he’s batting a strong .259/.359/.423 with eight home runs, two stolen bases and a .782 OPS in 234 plate appearances so far.

His extra-inning blast gave the Rangers the necessary advantage for their 22nd win of the year. Had it not been for Bartolo Colon‘s three-run snafu in the third inning, the right-hander would have joined Choo with a historical milestone of his own: the most career pitcher wins by a Dominican-born player, with 243.