MLB Network Radio host Cliff Floyd (@Sleepy30), (who is friends w/ Michael Morse, to be clear before I write the following words), threatened to smack the Washington Nationals' 1B/LF when the 29-year-old slugger told the 17-year major league-vet that he planned to walk more in 2012 during an MLB Roundtrip interview tonight. Morse, a seven-year veteran who hit 36 doubles and 31 HR's while posting a .303/.360/.550 line, walking 36 times and striking out 126 times in 146 games and 575 PA's in a +3.4 fWAR 2011 season, signed a 2-year/$10.5M dollar extension earlier this winter. The response that prompted the threats from Cliff Floyd came when he asked Morse what he would concentrate on this Spring and this season:
Cliff Floyd: "Mike, I want to talk about you for a minute, and what you did last year. I mean, you had a breakout season. Now expectations are on you. When pitching coaches bring their pitchers into meetings, you're going to be on that board as a guy to not let you beat them. What are you doing differently this year, mentally, to prepare yourself for that little added... I'm not saying you're going to put that pressure on yourself, but that little added pressure of now you are the man on this team, or one of the men?"
Michael Morse: "Well, one thing I'm going to try to do this year, it might sound a little weird, but I want to try to walk more. I'm a free swinger, I've always been, but I think-- "
Cliff Floyd: "You're going to make me smack you. You're going to make me come through-- I'm gonna see you tonight and I'm going to smack you for that comment right there. I'm gonna knock you out."
Michael Morse: "Well... I... " [laughs]
Cliff Floyd: "No, no, I'm gonna knock you out!"
Michael Morse: [laughs]
Cliff Floyd: "You walk more? We had this conversation last night. The 2-0 fastballs? If I'm watching you taking 2-0 fastballs I'm going to come to Washington and I'm gonna knock you out."
Michael Morse: "You know I'm not doing that."
Cliff Floyd: "Oh."
Michael Morse: "What I saw, about the second-half, was, I saw a lot of pitches I chased. I would start to get... you know, if I'm chasing balls, I start to hit too, too aggressive, and especially in situations where there might have been an open base or something, that, in the back of my head I'm thinking, 'Okay, the base is open, really see the ball,' but at the same time I'm thinking I want this RBI or I'm trying to get a hit, so maybe, you know what Cliff, maybe not walk more but just be smarter at the plate..."
Cliff Floyd: "Right."
Michael Morse: "I'll rephrase myself, cause I don't want to get smacked by you."
Cliff Floyd: "You're not going to be taking 1-0, 2-0 fastballs, be more selective, I'll take that, be more selective is good."
The former MLB slugger went on to explain that getting ahead in the count and seeing the 2-0 heater is obviously what Morse should be looking to do, since pitchers will try to get him to chase early in the count, and the Nationals' slugger explained that he understood. "After a while," Morse said, when you're having success, "They're going to try to get you to chase and if you're swinging at those pitches, they're not going to give in. They're going to say, 'Okay, I can throw this here all day and he's going to chase it." That goes for fastballs upstairs, Danny Espinosa and sliders outside, Ian Desmond. I said that, not Cliff Floyd or Morse, again, to be clear, but the real lesson to draw from the latest Michael Morse interview? Friends don't let friends take 2-0 fastballs.