"I feel pretty good. I'm starting to get comfortable," Michael Morse told ESPN980's The Sports Fix's Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro before he went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI last night in the Washington Nationals' win over New York. As the Nats noted on Twitter last night (@NationalsPR), Morse started his comeback from a lat injury that delayed the start of his season 0 for 9 before he began to feel comfortable at the plate in the first game of the current three-game series with the Mets. He's 4 for 8 with two doubles since then. Morse is starting to feel it. "Especially my first at bat [on Tuesday], something kind of clicked in my swing that I didn't feel the two nights before, so it's just a little matter of time and you just kind of slide in and play with this winning ballclub."
"It's a whole new ballgame," Davey Johnson said after last night's win which saw the middle of the Nats' lineup (Ryan Zimmerman, Morse and Adam LaRoche) go a combined 5 for 9 with three runs and five RBI's, "Michael Morse is warming up and there's not going to be much let-up in that middle of the lineup, and the first two guys are going to get on and then the thunder's coming. I've been waiting on it." The Nats' 69-year-old skipper said he noticed the difference in Morse's demeanor at the plate. "He's quieter up there. Looks like he's not as anxious," and he's starting to hit the ball to the opposite field, another sign that he's healthy. "He hits the ball as hard [to right] as he does the other way. He's too dangerous not to keep the ball away from him. You've got to keep the ball away from him, otherwise you open up a whole new ballgame where he can extend on the balls in on him. I liked his patience tonight, that shows me he's zeroing in."
• Morse is back in the five-hole this afternoon for game three with the Mets:
Today's lineup vs. NYM Lombardozzi LF, Harper CF, Zimmerman 3B, LaRoche 1B, Morse RF, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Solano C, Wang RHP #Nationals— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 7, 2012
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo too talked about the difference Morse has made for the lineup this afternoon on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show. "Not only was [Morse] our best hitter last year," the Nats' general manager explained, "He was our most productive, impactful hitter on the team last year. He does give you another threat and it's another power threat. And it's a guy that when you're down by a run or two runs, or three runs, you're a bloop and a blast away from tying the game. So, you're always in your mind, in the manager's mind, in the [opposing] manager's mind, [thinking], 'Well, we really have to get out A, B and C before we get to Morse, because with guys on base he can pop one at any time and all of sudden we go from a two-run lead to a one-run deficit.'"
"So, that plays on a manager's mind," Rizzo continued, "It affects the way the game is managed and you saw two nights ago when the Mets really tried to win that game in nine innings and [did] a lot of double switches, a lot of maneuvering to get around those big hitters in the middle of our lineup. I think it's going to make [Ryan Zimmerman] more comfortable. I think you're going to have [Adam] LaRoche see better pitches to hit."
• A few links for pre-game reading:
• File this one under rumors, but a Yankee fan friend sent me this link, and there was a rumor on Twitter a few weeks back about the Nationals working on a "big trade" that's referenced in this article, don't see the Nationals trading for an infielder though, honestly...:
• fwiw: "The Yankees and Nationals have had discussions that would land New York a starting pitcher, possibly right-hander Edwin Jackson, a source said on Thursday." - "Trentonian Blogs: Minor Matters: Yanks talking with Nats?" - Josh Norris, Minor Matters Trenton
• FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal talks to Bryce Harper's teammates:
• "I don’t want to leave here, I can tell you that." - Bryce Harper on the nation's capital - "Washington Nationals teammates rave about rookie Bryce Harper" - Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports on MSN
• Where does 2012 Nats' 1st Round pick Lucas Giolito fit into the Nats' top prospect list? ESPN's Keith Law says there's a new no.1...
• "2012 MLB draft: Where top draft picks fit in organizational player rankings" - Keith Law, ESPN