Plan for Harper not affected by Morse injury, plus Storen update

The news that Michael Morse will be shut down for the next six weeks because of a re-aggravated strained lat might lead some to wonder whether the Nationals will adjust their plan for top prospect Bryce Harper.

The answer from general manager Mike Rizzo, not surprisingly, is a resounding no.

“No. It does not,” Rizzo said. “We’ve got a plan for (Harper), and when he’s ready to come up, we’ll certainly think about that. But we’ve got in-house candidates that we feel comfortable with out there, and it doesn’t change where we’re at with Bryce’s timeline at all.”

Rizzo did mention Harper’s name when discussing the outfield options within the organization that could be called on to eventually replace some of Morse’s production, but the 2010 No. 1 pick won’t be pushed along faster now that Morse is out.

Meanwhile, Rizzo discussed the surgical procedure that Drew Storen underwent yesterday to remove a bone chip in his right elbow, saying the Nats closer came through everything OK.

“We feel good where we’re at with Drew,” Rizzo said. “We finally got the particle out of his elbow, so we knew that was the problem. When Dr. (Wiemi) Douoguih was in there, the elbow looked pristine, it looked really, really good. The ligament intact, everything else looked very clean in there. We feel like this was the issue and the problem, and we got the scope, took care of the chip.”

Rizzo didn’t have a specific timetable for Storen’s return, but the team is confident the 24-year-old will be back in a Nationals uniform this summer.

“We feel that he’ll rehab and do his thing and be back on the mound for us sometime this season.”

Rizzo also had news on the Nats’ top two picks in 2011 draft - Anthony Rendon and Brian Goodwin - who both suffered injuries within the last week. Byron Kerr has updates on that news over on his blog.

With all the recent injuries at the major and minor league levels, the Nats are starting to look pretty snakebitten. But despite the fact it seems a new player goes down with some kind of ailment every other day, Rizzo says he’s still keeping a positive outlook.

“There’s nobody feeling sorry for the Nationals,” Rizzo said. “We don’t feel snakebit, we feel that we’ve had a few issues here. We’re going to address them. That’s why we work so hard in the offseason to acquire depth at multiple positions, and we feel like we did that this year. We feel good about where we’re at. Does it hurt that our four-hole hitter is going to be out for an extended period of time? Sure. But with injuries comes opportunities, and if LaRoche didn’t get hurt last year, Morse might not have gotten his opportunity. So it’s time for somebody to step up.

“They’ve got opportunities to play and we’ve got a game today and we’ve got a bunch of games left. No one’s going to feel sorry for us, so it’s time to go.”

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