Funny how much things can change in a day. At this time yesterday, we were discussing the reasons the Nationals had for not playing Michael Morse every day, despite the latent power the outfielder has flashed just about every time he’s been put in a situation to do so.
All of those reasons were predicated on the Nationals’ commitment to Nyjer Morgan in center field; because Morgan was playing there and leading off every day, and because the Nationals wanted to see Roger Bernadina every day, there was nowhere to play Morse. Well, with Morgan headed to the disabled list, Morse will get all the playing time he wants.
Morgan was put on the DL with right hip soreness during last night’s game. The move was retroactive to August 4, meaning he is out for at least the next two weeks. On most of those days, the Nationals will likely use Bernadina in center and Morse in right, though Justin Maxwell and Kevin Mench, if he’s called up from Triple-A Syracuse, would get some playing time, as well.
But Morse, who has seven homers and a .961 OPS in 111 at-bats, will get his chance to play regularly and show the Nationals he deserves to do it more often.
The other item of concern, though, might be the leadoff spot. Bernadina will likely see most of the time there, with Morgan out and Cristian Guzman gone to the Rangers. His on-base percentage is only .332, and his ability to drive the ball makes him a better candidate to hit lower in the lineup in manager Jim Riggleman’s mind. On days where Maxwell starts, he would likely play center and lead off, allowing Bernadina to hit sixth and play right field.
The player who most directly benefits from this move, though, is Morse. He’ll get his at-bats in larger numbers than he was getting before, and he’s got a chance to show the Nationals they need to find a way to get him regular playing time.