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Posted at 6:49 PM ET, 02/28/2011

Michael Morse states his case

By Adam Kilgore

In his first at-bat of the spring, Michael Morse felt "a little jittery," the same way he always feels the first game of the year. "I think that's part of the game," Morse said. "And I love it. When those nerves leave, you better start thinking about another job."

After he grounded out to third base in the first inning, Morse made an adjustment. "I just calmed down," Morse said, "and got back to myself."

And that, Morse has proven, is good enough. Morse will try to make the case he belongs as the Nationals everyday left field this season, and he began with strong opening argument. In the Nationals' 9-3 victory over the Mets, Morse went 3 for 5 with a single two two-run home runs, a blast to left field off left-hander Taylor Tankersley and a rocket to right field off right-hander Ryota Igarashi.

"It feels good," Morse said. "I made a couple adjustments. It always feel good to hit the ball solid."

Morse inserted himself into the discussion for an everyday job with his breakout 2010 season. He hit .289 with a .352 on-base percentage, a .519 slugging percentage and 15 home runs in 266 at-bats.

One of Morse biggest competitors for the left field spot, Roger Bernadina, did nothing to hurt his cause, either. He went 2 for 2 with a walk and a stolen base, smoking a single to right and laying don't a clinical bunt single.

But Morse, by twice bashing a home run before Bryce Harper came to bat, stood out most. He clobbered a slider off of Tankersley to left, a drive that "was absolutely crushed," Manager Jim Riggleman said. In his next at-bat, he drove an outside fastball from Igarashi over the right field fence.

"He really got into a couple balls," Riggleman said. "He had good at-bats all day."

By Adam Kilgore  | February 28, 2011; 6:49 PM ET
 
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Next: The Nationals look sharp, and other notes from Game 1

Comments

"He went 2 for 2 with a walk and a stolen base, smoking a single to right and laying down a clinical bunt single."

That reads like a leadoff hitter.

Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out this Spring: Morse, Bernie, Nyjer, et al.

Posted by: joemktg1 | February 28, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

i'd love to see roger in center and morse in left

Posted by: bford1kb | February 28, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats were going to clone someone in the off season, could they have at least picked Stephen Strasburg?

Posted by: Trescml | February 28, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

"i'd love to see roger in center and morse in left"

Given that Bernadina is also learning finer bunting skills along with Morgan it might happen. Bernadina would bring more than speed to the top of the order ... an arm plus some power. But can he field the position as well as Morgan? Can he improve his CF play?

Posted by: periculum | February 28, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

i think Bernie is already techincally a better fielder than Morgan. his range might be smaller but he takes better angles, has a stronger arm, and has a better understanding of the game in general. after one game, i want Bernie leading off. lol. there's nothing wrong with a lead-off guy with power. Rickey did it for 20 years! of course, i'm not saying Bernie is capable of a .419 obp combined with .516 slugging, 24 hr, 72 rbi and 80 SB. BUT.... .350, .450, 18, 65 and 31 would make him way more valuable than Nyjer. just saying.

Posted by: destewar | March 1, 2011 1:55 AM | Report abuse

The constant talk about Morse and Bernadina battling for playing time is galling. Why is Morgan still on this team? He has demonstrated that he is not a major-league calibre hitter. Who does he have photos of?

Posted by: SSB1 | March 1, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I hope Morse gets to play alot this season. I don't know why he didn't play more last year. I think they could have won A FEW MORE games last year if he had!

Posted by: bobilly1 | March 1, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Boz said in his chat that the Nats seems to have more faith in Morgan turning things around than he does. But if they really are experimenting with turning Bernie into a credible leadoff hitter -- and all of the focus on bunting for hits and stealing bases sure makes it look like they are -- maybe they're not so sold on Morgan after all.

Posted by: js_edit | March 1, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Bye-bye Morgan. Hello Bernadina! No brainer and Morgan's attitude doesn't mess with Rizzo.

Posted by: DCSec112 | March 1, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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