Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Michael Morse has taken advantage of his increased playing time.
With all the attention on Stan Kasten's resignation announcement yesterday, plenty of other stuff fell through the cracks. So let's pick them up and run through some of the leftovers we didn't get to yesterday...
MICHAEL MORSE KEEPS ON HITTING
So much for the theory that everyone's favorite part-time player can't thrive in an everyday role. Morse has been in the Nationals' lineup in 23 of their last 25 games, and all he's done is hit .366 with eight doubles, four homers, 14 RBI, a .447 on-base percentage and a stout 1.081 OPS.
Baseball is a game of constant adjustments, and clearly Morse has managed to adjust to whatever pitchers were starting to do to him the more he played.
"It's a totally different game when you're playing every day," he said. "You're getting a lot of at-bats. They're learning how to pitch to you. You can make little adjustments during the game. But at the same time, you don't want to change your approach and feed into what
they're doing to you. I'm learning to deal with that right now."
For the season, Morse is now hitting .300 with 13 homers, 38 RBI, a .357 on-base percentage and an .887 OPS. Of course, he's only received 240 at-bats, not even half a season's worth. So you still can't completely project those numbers out and suggest they'd hold up over 600 at-bats.
Still, Morse has made a strong case to be looked at in a more substantial role in 2011. His fate will likely be tied to several factors -- whether Adam Dunn re-signs, whether Nyjer Morgan remains the everyday center fielder, whether the Nats feel the need to add another power bat -- but if nothing else, the Nationals can take comfort knowing they have a viable, in-house candidate for a regular job in Morse.
ROSS DETWILER IMPRESSED
In his first start since early August, Detwiler allowed two runs and seven hits over six strong innings, earning only his second career win in the process. The left-hander didn't exactly dominate -- he didn't strike a single batter out, and his velocity is not where it should be -- but he perhaps made a more significant statement about his abilities because of that.
"He was pitching today," Jim Riggleman said. "He wasn't trying to blow the ball by anybody. He changed speeds good. He got groundballs when he needed to. And we made the plays for him."
Detwiler, now 1-2 with a 2.52 ERA in seven appearances (three starts), believes the velocity will be back at full strength next season after his start-again/stop-again 2010.
"I know I'm not throwing as hard right now as I will be in the future. I don't have everything in there, because I haven't had a full season," he said. "Really, moving the ball in and out was huge for me today."
Riggleman said Detwiler should get one more start before season's end, though the manager didn't reveal who would get bumped from the rotation, or if the Nats would simply go with a six-man starting staff the rest of the way.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN MAY MISS SEVERAL DAYS
Zimmerman was a late scratch from yesterday's lineup with a strained ribcage muscle. He said it's something that had been bothering him for a couple of days, though he couldn't pinpoint one at-bat or play where it was actually aggravated.
Look for the Nationals to be ultra-cautious with their star third baseman. Ribcage muscles are tricky things. One violent swing at the plate could lead to a serious injury. At this stage of the season, there's no real reason to take a chance of that happening.
So don't be surprised if Zimmerman sits out several more games before returning to the lineup.
HARPER, FLORES PLAY IN VIERA
The Florida instructional league schedule opened yesterday, with two notable developments: Bryce Harper, in the first professional ballgame of his career, went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. Jesus Flores, in his first real game action since last season, went 1-for-2 and homered.
Mark DeCotis of Florida Today has the full story from Viera.