We’re all plenty aware how much injuries have ravaged this Nationals team this season.
But bring yourself back to April 4, the day before opening day, for a second.
If I had told you back then that the Nationals would be without cleanup hitter Michael Morse and closer Drew Storen for 50 games (and counting, for Storen), face of the franchise Ryan Zimmerman for 17 days, right fielder Jayson Werth for the last three weeks and the bulk of the summer, catcher Wilson Ramos for the last two weeks and remainder of the season, and veteran starter Chien-Ming Wang, veteran reliever Brad Lidge and veteran infielder Mark DeRosa for large chunks of time, where do you think this team would be?
In first place in the National League East and eight games above .500? Doubtful.
But Morse, who was set to make his 2012 debut last night only to have it delayed by yet another day (jeez, will Mother Nature just let the guy get on the field, please?) says he expected the Nats to perform well throughout the season’s first two months, even with all the injuries they’ve sustained.
“I wasn’t surprised, especially with the team that we have,” Morse said. “I definitely was not surprised. ... That tells you the kind of character that we have and the kind of minor league system that (general manager Mike) Rizzo’s put together.
“We’ve got guys that are ready. Guys are in Triple-A ready, they’re coming up and they’re producing. They’re filling in holes. We’ve got a great team, and we’re in first place.”
The Nationals have been careful not to make any excuses along the way or blame any of their mini-slides on injuries or a depleted bench.
As manager Davey Johnson has pointed out numerous times, the Nats are far from the only team that’s been bit by the injury bug. The Nationals can look within their own division and find a team in Philadelphia that has been without its two top position players the entire season and is now missing its ace starting pitcher.
But the Nats are not only buoyed by the fact that they sit atop the division nearly one-third of the way through the season, but that reinforcements will arrive later in the summer in the form of Storen and Werth, and they feel their best baseball is ahead of them.
“I still think there’s so much more potential than we’ve got,” Morse said. “I don’t think we’ve hit our stride yet. And when we do, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”