Morse has yet to play in a game this season
Although the Washington Nationals are a first-place club, they've done it thus far without the help of slugger Mike Morse, who hit .303 with 31 home runs last season. But the 30-year-old is set to begin his rehab stint and return to Washington.
The situation with catcher Jesus Flores and his hamstring injury remains uncertain, but the Nationals finally got some good news on the health front Monday.
Michael Morse is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment on Tuesday at Class A Potomac. He completed extended spring training Monday and, if all goes well, could rejoin the team as early as the end of the week.
Morse has missed the entire season because of a strained left lat injury that's hurt mostly his throwing. The injury popped up in training camp and it worsened as time went on.
The return of Morse should be a big boost since the Nationals have had problems scoring runs all season. Manager Davey Johnson will put Morse somewhere in the middle of the lineup when he returns.
Morse will go back to left field, which could also force Johnson to make some tough decisions in other spots.
Steve Lombardozzi has been playing in left and doing well while batting lead-off, but Johnson probably would have to shift him to the infield at times, possibly second base, which could affect Danny Espinosa.
With Flores, the Nationals are saying his situation remains day-to-day. Carlos Maldonado started Monday, but Johnson said that Lombardozzi would be the emergency fill-in if the Nationals needed a catcher.
After the Nationals' 5-3 loss to the Marlins, Johnson said they were going to bring up Jhonatan Solano from Class AAA Syracuse to fill that spot. Infielder/outfielder Tyler Moore was optioned to Syracuse.
Nationals Notes & Quotes
RHP Jordan Zimmermann hit his first major league home run in Monday's 5-3 loss in Miami. Zimmermann's home run came off RHP Carlos Zambrano, the first home run he's hit since college. The home run gave the Nationals an early 1-0 lead, but they couldn't hold it. Zimmermann went six innings but gave up two home runs and four runs and took the loss.
3B Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run double in the fifth inning in Monday's loss. That hit put the Nationals on top, 3-1, and extended his hitting streak to five games.
LF Steve Lombardozzi went 3-for-4 in Monday's loss. The rookie is again making his case to remain in the lineup when LF Michael Morse returns in the coming days. Lombardozzi has hit well from the lead-off spot, and manager Davey Johnson will have to make some tough decisions.
RHP Ryan Perry appeared for the first time in nine days and pitched a scoreless inning. He last got into a game on May 19 against the Orioles and now has thrown three straight scoreless innings after a rough start with the Nationals.
RHP Henry Rodriguez, having lost his job as the closer, pitched in relief on Monday. He pitched in the seventh inning and gave up an insurance run that gave the Marlins a 5-3 lead. Rodriguez has been struggling in recent days, a big reason manager Davey Johnson pulled him out of the closer's role.
OF Corey Brown had his contract purchased from Class AAA Syracuse, and he flied out as a ninth-inning pinch hitter. Brown, 26, went 0-for-3 in three games with Washington last year. He hit .297/.399/.584 with 12 homers and 30 RBI in 48 games for Syracuse this season.
INF Chad Tracy was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 27 due to a right groin injury. There is a chance he might need surgery. Tracy is hitting .265/.327/.510 with three homers and 12 RBI through 32 games this season.
RF Jayson Werth was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for OF Corey Brown. Werth underwent surgery May 7 to repair a broken left wrist, and he will be out until mid- to late July.
INF/OF Tyler Moore was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, as the Nationals needed to add a catcher. Moore went 3-for-19 (.158) with no RBI in 12 games with Washington this season.
C Jhonatan Solano, 26, will be promoted from Class AAA Syracuse to Washington on Tuesday, manager Davey Johnson said. The Nationals already have two catchers on the disabled list, and Jesus Flores is nursing a hamstring injury. Solano hit .250/.298/.288 with no homers and two RBI in 13 games for Syracuse this season.
By the Numbers: 10 – Hours between the time the Nationals got to their hotel in Miami and the start of the game. They played a night game in Atlanta on Sunday and arrived at their Miami hotel at 3 a.m for the game that began just after 1 p.m. The Nationals didn't take infield or batting practice.
Quote to Note: "He just made a bad pitch to (Giancarlo) Stanton. It was a hanging slider over the middle of the plate. Not a good idea to one of their hotter hitters." -- Manager Davey Johnson, on RHP Jordan Zimmermann's problems against Giancarlo Stanton, whose two-run home run tied the game Monday. That was Stanton's 11th home run of the month.