Michael Morse suffers another setback

FLUSHING, N.Y. - The bad news on the injury front just keeps coming.

Yet again, Michael Morse has suffered a setback in his strained lat, and the Nationals’ left fielder has been shut down for the time being.

Scheduled to play a full nine innings yesterday at low-A Hagerstown as part of the next step in his rehab, Morse was pulled in the seventh inning when he complained of more discomfort in his right lat. Morse will be examined by the Nationals’ team doctors and will undergo additional testing.

“They’re concerned about it, so they’re going to do further tests on him,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Hopefully it’s nothing that serious.”

According to Johnson, Morse was having trouble getting the ball from left field to shortstop, and eventually had to leave the game.

“The report I got, it kind of got progressively worse during the ballgame,” Johnson said. “That’s not a good sign.”

Morse has been battling the lat injury since early March. He was scratched from a Grapefruit League game on March 6 when he felt the lat while warming up, and both the Nats and Morse said then that they expected the left fielder to return in a couple days.

But the injury lingered, and Morse was eventually shut down from baseball activities for a full week. Late in spring, the Nationals said they felt Morse could still be ready for opening day, and he was able to begin a rehab assignment when a sonogram showed that the lat injury had healed. All appeared to be going well on the minor league level when Morse got off to a strong start at the plate for Double-A Harrisburg.

Morse then suffered what appeared to be a minor setback April 6 when he felt the lat while throwing, and went up to New York the next day to get treatment from a specialist. Morse returned after seeing the doctor in New York, played in one more game with Harrisburg, and then joined Hagerstown for yesterday’s game.

He went 2-for-4 at the plate before being pulled in the seventh.

“I thought the initial reports on his little tear was that it was healed,” Johnson said. “So, again, I don’t like the fact he had to leave the game in the seventh inning because he was having a hard time throwing it to the shortstop.”

Morse was scheduled to return for the Nationals’ home opener on Thursday, but those plans have changed.

“I was kind of looking forward to penciling him into the lineup on Thursday,” Johnson said. “But obviously, that’s not going to happen.”

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