Hot bat may keep Morse in cleanup spot

Hot bat may keep Morse in cleanup spot

Hot bat may keep Morse in cleanup spot
ATLANTA -- Not only is Michael Morse, who has been nursing a sore left hamstring since the Nationals' mid-week series in Denver, healthy enough to play, but the slugger remained in his usual cleanup spot against a lefty on Saturday, and could soon find himself there against right-handers.

Morse, who was 4-for-4 with the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning Friday night against the Braves, left the game after that inning because he told manager Davey Johnson that his leg was starting to trouble him.

"He came to me at the end of the seventh and said, 'Skip, it's starting to tighten on me. You might have to run for me," Johnson said.

Morse's home run trot took care of that issue before Rick Ankiel moved to right field for the remainder of the game.

Morse, who boosted his batting average from .215 to .294 in the five games leading up to Saturday's contest, has routinely been batting cleanup against lefties, but fifth against righties. When asked about him staying in the four-hole on a daily basis, Johnson said it was a definite possibility.

"I can't remember hitting him any other place when I was here last year," Johnson said. "And I like the separation of two batters between [Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche]."

Entering Saturday, Morse had hit fourth in 11 games and fifth in 14. Last season, he hit fourth in 85 games and fifth in 39.