Nationals outfielder Michael Morse will be shut down from baseball activities for at least six weeks as he recovers from reaggravating the lat injury that has forced him to miss the start of the 2012 baseball season. Morse will be reevaluated after six weeks, and if everything checks out, he will start a rehab program with games. That would peg a possible return in June or just before the All-Star break.
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman missed 58 games last season with an abdominal injury that required surgery and understands how crucial these next few weeks are for Morse's total recovery.
"Anytime any of your teammates get hurt, it is tough," Zimmerman said. "The most important thing is for him to get completely healthy. I think Michael is going to be here for a long time. He just needs to get completely healthy and not have to worry about it anymore. Whether it is six weeks or however long it takes, we will be ready when he comes back."
Morse thought he was close at the beginning of the week to rejoining his teammates at Citi Field in New York against the Mets. But in a game at low Single-A Hagerstown, Morse had trouble relaying a throw in from the outfield that allowed a runner to score. Rounding the bases after a hit, he ran gingerly and not at full speed. Later in the game, he pulled himself off the field. Morse had reinjured the lat. Now, the team must shut him down.
Zimmerman said he has talked to Morse and can understand the frustration the clean-up hitter must feel having to go through all this down time with the team playing well.
"Michael is disappointed, I think, with the year he had last year and how hard he worked in the offseason and how much he wanted to come back and continue that roll that he had last year," Zimmerman said. "The hardest thing for him to be patient and make sure he gets completely healthy kind of realize it is important for the long haul for him to be completely healthy."
But this is another critical part of the process. Morse and closer Drew Storen, who underwent surgery earlier this week to have loose bodies removed from his pitching elbow, must be patient the next few weeks and not rush back from rehabilitation of their injuries or they may lose more valuable in-season time.
They must be teammates of a different sort now, working together at the appointed measured pace so when they do get back on the field, it will be full-time for crucial games in July, August, September and, hopefully, October.