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Mike Morse is playing right, for what it's Werth

During batting practice this evening, as both teams mingled behind the batting cage, one No. 28 approached the other No. 28. Mike Morse, long hair curling from under his cap, wanted to speak with Jayson Werth, long hair curling from under his cap.

"All right, man, what else do I need?" Morse asked Werth. "I got the hair. I got the number. I'm playing right [field] today. What else do I need to do?"

During the Nationals' opening series, Morse can watch the other team's right fielder and see the best-case scenario for his own career come to life. When the Nationals traded Ryan Langerhans for Morse last year, they did so because they believed if Morse reached his full potential, he could be another Jayson Werth.

Werth (6 feet 5, 220 pounds) was drafted in the first round in 1997 as a catcher. He struggled to find a position and did not reach the majors until 2002, when he was on his second team and had been moved to the outfield. He would not get at least 300 plate appearances until 2004, and he did not become a true regular until 2008, when he was on his fourth team, a team that won the World Series. Last year, he was an all-star and finished 17th in MVP voting.

Morse (6-5, 230) was drafted in the third round in 2000 as a shortstop. He struggled to find a position and did not reach the majors until 2005, when he was on his second team and about to be moved to the outfield. Now on his third team, he has still not made 300 plate appearances in a season or become a true regular. Last year, he met Werth for the first time.

"Actually, he's one of my favorite players in the game," Morse said. "I like the way he plays. He plays hard. He's a great hitter. He's been with teams and stuff, and he had a long road to get to where he's at, too. Guys like him, guys like Raul Ibanez, it brings me hope."

Morse is starting tonight, and he will be a regular piece in the right field platoon. Against left-handed starters, Manager Jim Riggleman will weigh whether to play Willy Taveras or Morse on a daily basis. He'll determine a starter based partly on their history against the pitcher and on defense.

"Certainly, there's some thought to it each day," Riggleman said.

For tonight, even though Taveras is the more experienced outfielder, Jason Marquis is a groundball pitcher and therefore places less of a premium on outfield defense. Also, Taveras was 1 for 9 in his career against Phillies starter Cole Hamels.

So Morse will play tonight, the same position as one of his favorite players. For the record, he swears his switch from No. 12 with the Mariners to 28 with the Nationals was a coincidence.

"I remember I was talking to somebody," Morse said. "They said, 'You need a bigger number.' I was 12 in Seattle. I'm not an infielder anymore. I needed a bigger number. Twenty-eight? Jayson Werth? I mean, come on."

* * *
Cristian Guzman may become another member of the right field platoon soon. He was shagging flies four hours before the game tonight, sweating through 90-degree heat. The work impressed Rigglemam, who said, "Pretty soon, I'll put him out there, too."

Riggleman wants Guzman to start somewhere to keep his bat fresh, and he plans on putting Guzman at shortstop either Thursday or Friday.

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 7, 2010; 7:07 PM ET
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Next: Mike Morse day-to-day with calf injury, Cristian Guzman plays right


Man, too bad we aren't getting more of Guzzie's awesome OPS out there tonight.

Posted by: hlaxness | April 7, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

What happened to WFED? I am listening in my house in NW dc (near Connecticut & Nebraska NW) and the only way I can hear the game is listening to a Philly station?

Posted by: ken1 | April 7, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Okay something isn't clicking with Steve McCatty and this pitching staff,Randy St.Claire was a victim of the ineptitude of Manny Acta and became a sacrificial lamb but McCatty imo has shown me absolutely nothing the staff is no better Ryan Howard kills us every time along with every other Philly, this staff was horrible in spring training and it's horrible now.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 7, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I really don't know whether to laugh or cry. Not only do we have to go to games with 20,000+ Phillies fans, we have to listen to their radio stations.

Our manager thinks a fading shortstop with a lousy OBP and a sore arm is part of the answer in right field, and our two best pitchers have imploded on the first two days of the season, one in the fourth and one in the fifth. And today, unlike Monday, he was getting a little run support.

I know it's only the second game, but one gets the distinct impression this is not an aberrration.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 7, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

What else does Morse need to do?
How about acting like a major league right-fielder and hitting a little bit, and stop looking like a Little Leaguer against this overrated Phillie hump Hamels?

Bring back Dukes!

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | April 7, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Good showing for Walker today.

Posted by: amorris525 | April 7, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

And props for Desmond, already having a big night.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 7, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, if you hoped we could move on, the featured story on the Yahoo home page right now (, which I would guess many, many thousands of people across the nation use when they log on) has this headline: MLB team's diss leaves fans outraged.

I hope Stan K enjoys it.

Posted by: nats24 | April 7, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

And the reason we should shell out good money to see the Nationals is?? I want these guys to succeed, but they clearly are not in the same league as a team like Philadelphia. The Nat's vaunted improvements in pitching are, so far, nowhere to be seen. I understand that Stephen and Drew are coming, eventually, but this is really dreadful so far, and so dispiriting.

Posted by: charles6 | April 7, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Capps is like batting practice for these guys. Only thing worse is Bergmann...

Oh man, look who is warming up. We really have conceded.

Posted by: mo_dc | April 7, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Same old story. I'd never write a team off after 2 games, but things are looking a lot like last year. The bats are live, the arms are dead.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | April 7, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Guz made his argument for playing time. The Nats certainly can't tolerate an error a game from Desmond, no matter how well he hits.
Geez, how many shots did the Phillies hit off the Nats tonight? It gives outclassed new meaning. I don't know if my heart can stand the first time Capps will have a save opportunity.

Posted by: nats24 | April 7, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The sign of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.~F. Scott Fitzgerald

The glass is both half-empty and half-full, until it's observed. Unless you're watching it, waiting for it to boil--then it won't.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | April 7, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

If Desmond's bat stays hot over, say, the next 10 games or so, I'll be willing to overlook his errors (as cringe-inducing as they may be), which Boz did say would be a part of his game for a while.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | April 7, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

The problem for Capps? Ian Desmond, the error machine. 2 games, 2 errors. That projects to 162 errors. But everyone is so thrilled with his hitting. How about balancing the runs he drives in with the runs he lets in? Here is your right field solution: put Desmond out there. But truth is, you can never hide a bad glove. The ball will inevitably find him.

Posted by: fpcsteve | April 8, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

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