Michael Morse's latest setback in his rehab from a strained lat will land him on the shelf until at least mid-May.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said today that Morse, who re-aggravated his lat injury while on a rehab appearance with low Single-A Hagerstown on Monday, will be in "total shutdown mode" for the next six weeks, and will be evaluated after that.
"We tried to ramp him up and get him ready as quickly as we could because he's a big piece of our lineup, and it just re-aggravated it," Rizzo said. "Now we're going to have to be ultra-cautious and make sure that he's right for the majority of the season."
Surgery is not an option for Morse, Rizzo said. The Nationals felt a brief period of rest in spring training helped heal Morse's injury at least initially, and they'll go with the rest strategy again this time.
"There's no viable surgical option for this," Rizzo said. "We're taking the prudent course as described by our doctors, and hopefully when it's settled down and fully healthy, we get him back on the field and back in the lineup."
With Morse out, the Nationals have a large void in the middle of their lineup, both literally and figuratively.
Rizzo says the Nats will consider adding someone from outside the organization to help bolster their offensive production and give them another option in the outfield, but stressed that he likes the way the Nationals' outfield is constructed right now, even without Morse.
"We're comfortable with the people we have," Rizzo said. "If there's a viable option to get another guy that fits what we're trying to do this year and for the long-term, we're always open for that, but we like the options that we have here."
The Nats initially felt that Morse's injury would just keep him out of the lineup a couple days, but he still has yet to rejoin the major league team.
"It surprised us at the time," Rizzo said of Morse's extended absence. "We thought it was just a slight little pull and it's been re-aggravated several times. I don't know what caused it or what went wrong. We followed our protocol in trying to get him ready and it just hasn't progressed."