Morse is having the best season of his Major League career. Entering Sunday's game, which he sat out after being hit on the forearm with a pitch the day before, Morse was hitting .299 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs. Even more impressive, since May 22, Morse led the National League in home runs and RBIs.
"He's been our best player all year long," Clippard said. "I think since May, he's probably been the best hitter in the big leagues. What he has proven to himself, and proven to the league, about what kind of player he is this year -- and at the end of last year, too -- has been phenomenal."
Morse has turned out to be a great acquisition for the Nationals. He became a valuable bench player in 2009 and '10. By Spring Training of this year, former manager Jim Riggleman announced that Morse would be the everyday left fielder.
But after Morse got out to a slow start and had some health issues, Riggleman decided to give Laynce Nix most of the playing time. By the beginning of May, Morse was getting starts only against left-handers, and those were sparing.
Morse found himself on the bench -- until late May, when Adam LaRoche was put on the disabled list because of a serious shoulder injury. Morse took advantage of the situation and now finds himself as the team's leading hitter -- not to mention an above-average defensive first baseman.
"It's been a long road," Morse said. "But I'm very happy and fortunate to have this moment to be a finalist with four other guys."
Now in its 10th year, the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Messaging and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Sandard rates may apply.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and final player on each team, once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, and around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
There will be an extra treat for fans who participate in the Final Vote. If you are not a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you are eligible to receive a 10-day free trial of MLB.TV from July 9-19. If you are a current MLB.TV subscriber (MLB.TV or MLB.TV Premium), you will receive a 15-percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. MLB.com will send an email on July 8 to all Final Vote voters with instructions on how to redeem the applicable offer.