VIERA, Fla. - Several times this spring, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman hinted he's aware of the clamoring from fans to play Michael Morse every day. And maybe it's a good thing Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo put Morse in the lead for the job this morning, because if they hadn't, the cry from fans would be getting even louder.
Morse hit his fifth homer of the spring in the second inning of the Nationals' game with the Yankees today, blasting a shot over the double-decker billboards in right field. It tied the game at 2, and raised Morse's average to .500 for the spring. The Nationals and Yankees remained tied until a minute ago, when Jorge Vazquez homered off John Lannan to put the Yankees ahead 4-2.
Rizzo said this morning he think Morse is athletic enough to become an above-average outfielder and a good enough all-around player that the Nationals can put him ahead of their better defensive options, like Roger Bernadina and Rick Ankiel. It'd be one thing if Morse was a butcher with the glove (he's not), but it underscores the point again that no matter how important defense is, a bat like Morse's will command playing time.
Lannan hasn't been sharp early - he allowed two hits and three walks in the first two innings, and has been struggling to get his sinker down in the zone. He walked Jesus Montero before giving up the homer to Vazquez. Yunesky Maya will follow him.