Morse goes to New York to treat ailing back

Morse goes to New York to treat ailing back

CHICAGO -- After two rehab games for Double-A Harrisburg, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse went to New York on Saturday to get treatment for his strained right lat (back) muscle, according to manager Davey Johnson. Morse is expected to return to the Senators on Sunday to continue his rehab assignment.

In two games, Morse is 2-for-6 [.333] with a home run and one RBI. Morse doesn't have problems swinging the bat, but he still is feeling some discomfort while throwing the baseball.

Morse is expected to return to the Nationals within a week, and Johnson already said that he will not hesitate to put the slugger back in the lineup.

As for Rick Ankiel, he hasn't had any problems with his tight left quad. In two rehab games for the Senators, Ankiel is 1-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. He is expected to return to the Nationals a few days after Morse's arrival.

Once the pair returns to the big leagues, the Nationals have to take two players off the 25-man roster. Johnson did not say which two players are on the bubble.

Johnson was asked how important it was for outfielder Roger Bernadina to step up within the next week.

"Bernie had a great spring," the manager said. "He is still a young player, as far as playing in the big leagues. He still has tremendous potential. But [Ankiel and Morse] are knocking on the door, and they are getting closer. This is an important time for [Bernadina]."

Bernadina, who is out of Minor League options and could be traded, needs to take advantage of his speed and show some pop, something he did not do last year. In the first game against the Cubs on Thursday, Bernadina went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.