Though they've been decimated by injuries through the season's first six weeks, the Nationals are inching closer toward getting several key players back in uniform, headlined by Michael Morse.
Morse, out since Opening Day with an injury to his right lat muscle, will begin baseball activities tomorrow, including "dry swings" without a ball. The left fielder will start playing catch and plans to head to extended spring training in Viera, Fla., next week while the Nationals are on the road to continue his rehab.
At this point, Morse is shooting for a full return on June 8, when he could serve as designated hitter for back-to-back interleague series at Boston and Toronto.
"That would give him about a month before he'd have to throw from the outfield," manager Davey Johnson said. "Hopefully that injury would be healed and he's throwing well enough in the next three weeks to hit and then being able to play."
Wang, meanwhile, made another rehab start (his fourth overall) today for Class AAA Syracuse, pitching into the ninth inning. The veteran right-hander, out since mid-March with a hamstring strain, allowed four runs on 11 hits, but most encouraging to team officials was his increased stamina.
Wang probably is physically ready to return from the DL, but the Nationals intend to wait until his full 30 days on rehab are up -- his stint is set to expire on May 27 -- before making what is going to be a difficult decision regarding their rotation.
It's been assumed all along that No. 5 starter Ross Detwiler would surrender his spot to Wang, but when asked today about the possibility someone else could be moved to the bullpen, Johnson was noncommittal.
"Conceivably," the maanger said. "But again, you guys are answering questions that I don't have to address right now. I've got enough other problems without conjecture."