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Michael Morse gets his chance

On Thursday, Michael Morse started for the only the second time since May 16. He went 3 for 3 with a game-sealing home run, which raised his average this year to .417 and his on-base percentage to .500, the kind of performance that invites more playing time.

Morse, though, did not play the next two days. The time back on the bench, which will cease when he starts in right field today, did not surprise or upset him.

"Not at all," Morse said. "I know my role. Until I hear anything else, until further notice, I know my role. I'm humbled to that."

That attitude has helped Morse. While most players, and several Nationals, struggle to remain sharp in the face of irregular playing time, Morse has excelled. He has only 24 at-bats this year, owing to a calf injury and extended time in a minor league rehab assignment, but he when given chances, he's delivered.

"I think he's accepted it," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's been in the big leagues now a few years and has not played as a regular anywhere. He's kind of accepted that he wants to be a regular, but in the meantime there's a niche there for him. As you try to become a good ball club, you've got to have players who accept that role. If you don't, you're going to have a mess."

Most of Morse's appearances come as pinch hitter, a role in which he is 3 for 9. Morse has developed a routine. "It's definitely a mental part of the game," he said. "Sometimes it's hard." To avoid rust, he'll take batting practice before the game and early in the game - "almost over-hit," he said. After the middle innings, he'll head back down the cage and start preparing for an at-bat, which may or may not come.

"You want to be sweaty and feel like you've been in there," Morse said.

Today, Morse actually will be in there. When the Nationals next play, he knows he probably won't be, and he's fine with that.

"I know my position," he said. "I know my place here. We have such a great team here. I understand."

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 13, 2010; 12:45 PM ET
 
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Comments

yes, im tired of harria and is .100 BA

Posted by: arizonacardinalsfan1 | June 13, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Mike Morse has done so well he got replace by Bernadina as a Pinch-runner in the 6th inning.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | June 13, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

That's your crony-istic manager Riggleman ... so Riggs why can't Guzman accept his role? Oh he hits? Gee, and Morse is hitting .423 with power. What a friggin' hypocrite.

Posted by: periculum | June 13, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Why should Morse be "resigned to his role"? The best lineup now has Bernadina in CF and Morse in RF. Isn't that obvious?
We will score runs with this lineup, and with Desmond at SS and Pudge catching. If Rigs would let these guys play, we wouldn't need to worry about "getting Nyjer started."

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 13, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

To the casual observer, it would seem pretty obvious that Batista is done, and that Nyjer is on thin ice. I'm sure Riggs was ticked having to bring Clip in; maybe that will count for something. Nyjer 0 for 5, the only starter to be skunked; can anyone say Willingham - Bernadina - Morse?

Posted by: Slidell | June 13, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

@Slidell:
I might start to agree with you in the OF (Willingham-Bernadina-Morse) once Morse collects 40-or-so more at bats. Bernadina seems smoother in CF than Morgan currently, but covers a little less ground, and Morse is a serious bat so far.

Posted by: BinM | June 13, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Lets play two series with Willingham-Bernadina-Morse intact. I miss the old Nyjer- I think a couple of games off might be a good thing for him at this point.

Posted by: Tom8 | June 13, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I look at Nyjer and wonder how a guy can fall apart so quickly on the basepaths; its one thing if he's just not hitting, but when he does get on base I find myself hoping he doen't try to steal.

As for Batista, well, with healthy arms hopefully on the horizon his time here was limited anyway.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | June 13, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Morgan, Bernadina, and Morse might all be 4th OF types... so why not let 'em split time more equally among them and go with who is hot... I'm not saying sell Morgan down the river, but giving him 600 at bats doesn't make sense if he isn't producing... which he isn't this year... let him split time...

I do think Bernadina can play defense in center at least as well as Morgan, if not better... and Bernadina and Morse in the same lineup gives us a lot more power then Morgan in there... it is hard to see Morgan and Guzman (total homers between them, 0) at the top of the order all the time... it isn't like either one is getting on base all the time, either (.327 and .313 on-base percentages isn't getting it done)... and Morgan has been suspect on the bases...

Anyway, beating a dead horse... give Morse more playing time, see what he can do!

Posted by: Ghost7 | June 13, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Whoa! it wasn't even a year ago that we were all singing Nyjer's praises, he was the only reason a lot of us even bothered to watch this team, now everyone(not me)is ready to give him the heave ho, i would love to sit down with Riggleman,Eckstein,and Morgan and see what they all have to say about his struggles and why Morgan hasn't adjusted. I wonder why Marquis Grissom wasn't retained he was clearly Nyjer's mentor and confidant whatever the reason it has clearly affected Nyjer and Eckstein has me wondering about his ability as a hitting coach,i would love to know this team's average with RISP.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 13, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Morgan needs to be relegated to being a pinch runner, Bernadina to center, and Morse in right.

Morgan misplayed another ball hit directly over his head. How many times does Riggleman need to see balls that Morgan leaps for hit the wall at Morgan's waist? He has lost a step. Pitiful.

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Posted by: linda38 | June 13, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I'd much rather see Morse in there every day of the week than Morgan. Morse can hit consistently, off the bench or as a starter, and he can field, and he doesn't get thrown out consistently (or at all) trying to steal.

Posted by: samantha7 | June 13, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer is 'Wall Shy', he did make one nice catch this weekend at the wall when he and Roger almost collided, but generally, if he's still moving with any speed near the wall, catching the ball becomes a secondary priority with him. Roger doesn't have that problem, yes, that's how he ended his season very early last year, but those are the type of guys you need out there: Fearless. There are also the fundamental mistakes that no 30 year old Major Leaguer should be making, missed cut-off men, throwing to the wrong base, costing us a game by getting thrown-out at third before our base-running pitcher could cross the plate, etc. Between that, the poor bunting, stealing at a poor percentage, and just the low BA and OBP, the shine has come completely off Nyjer. Last year here after the trade is looking more and more like an aberration. Roger in CF and Morse in RF, please...

Posted by: dabagley | June 14, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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