WASHINGTON -- The Nationals received bad news Thursday, as they learned that outfielder Michael Morse is expected to be shut down for six weeks after aggravating his strained right lat (back) muscle on Monday while playing for Class A Hagerstown.
There isn't any surgical option to fix the lat, and there isn't a timetable on when Morse will return to game action.
Morse can swing the bat without any problems, but he continues to feel discomfort while throwing the baseball. In fact, Morse had problems throwing the ball back to Hagerstown shortstop Jason Martinson in the game.
"We are going to put him on total shut-down mode for six weeks, so he can rest it," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We'd tried to ramp him up and get him ready as quickly as we could, because he is a big piece of our lineup. He just reaggravated it, and we have to be ultra cautious and make sure he is right for the majority of the season."
For now, the Nationals are not looking to trade for a corner outfielder. They are confident in what they have in players such as Mark DeRosa and Xavier Nady. Rizzo said they also have an option in Bryce Harper, who is currently at Triple-A Syracuse, but the team will not rush Harper to the big leagues because of Morse's injury.
"If there is a viable option to get another guy that fits what we are trying to do this year and beyond, for the long term, we are always open for that," Rizzo said. "But we like the option that we have here. We have a guy in Syracuse that is an option for us. We feel good where we are at."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.