Morse activated, but season debut has to wait

Morse activated, but season debut has to wait

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals activated outfielder Michael Morse from the 15-day disabled list Friday and optioned outfielder Corey Brown to Triple-A Syracuse.

Morse, who missed two months of the season because of a torn lat muscle, is a welcome addition to a struggling offense that is in need of a difference maker and someone who could protect Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup.

Morse was the team's Most Valuable Player last season, leading the team in almost every offensive category. Before Friday's game against the Braves was rained out, Morse was slated to hit cleanup.

"He was our best hitter last year," manager Davey Johnson said. "You have to give him some respect. He is a big, strong guy, loves the strike zone, hits the ball to all fields and he will take a little pressure off [our hitters] in the lineup, which is good. We missed him all the way through spring. [Now we] have another right-hander in there to kind of protect Zim."

Before Friday's game, Morse was in the clubhouse, expressing how happy he was that he was back with the team. Morse suffered the lat injury during Spring Training and had serious problems throwing the ball.

At first, he thought it was nothing serious, but he started the season on the disabled list and was hoping he would be back with the team by mid-April. But he suffered a setback during a rehab assignment for Class A Hagerstown and it was learned that he tore the muscle off the bone.

"When it first happened, I thought one or two days. No big deal," Morse said. "But to take a couple of months of the season, it was a shock at first. The injury itself is something so rare in baseball. But I said [I've been through injuries before], I've been through it too many times. This is not something I can't come back from."

Morse was told to rest and by late May, he was doing another rehab assignment and didn't have any problems throwing the ball.

It helps that he changed his throwing mechanics. Instead of throwing that ball in a sidearm position like an infielder, he now has a full windup like an outfielder.

"I feel pretty good. When it comes to my arm, my mechanics are a lot better, less stress when I throw and stuff. I feel healthy and I feel good," Morse said.

Morse will start his season in right field, while Stephen Lombardozzi and Xavier Nady will platoon in left field. Playing right field is nothing new to Morse, who often played the position in 2010.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.