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DBRIDGE, Va. -- Washington's Michael Morse took an abbreviated first step in his rehab assignment with the Class A Potomac Nationals on Tuesday night.
Morse has been sidelined the entire season due to a torn left lat muscle, but he came back to the field for the first time in Potomac's Carolina League game with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He went 0-for-1 with a walk before rain suspended the game in the top of the fifth.
Morse hit well during batting practice. During the game, he fouled off three pitches in his second at-bat and was pleased with everything.
"It felt great," Morse said. "I felt good at the plate. I saw the ball really good. A couple more at-bats, and I feel like I should be fine. The last thing that comes before you get your swing is the timing, so right now, I'm just trying to get my timing off the pitchers and that's it."
Morse served as the designated hitter in the game, batting third in the lineup for Potomac. He got some cheers when he came out onto the field about 15 minutes prior to game time.
But he drew even more applause when he stepped into the box for his first at-bat. Morse came up with two outs in the top of the first. He battled Myrtle Beach starter Roman Mendez, running the count full before drawing a walk. However, Morse didn't advance.
Morse came up again in the third with Potomac holding a 1-0 lead. He fouled off the three pitches before striking out on a 2-2 slider. That was his final at-bat, as the game was suspended following a 50-minute rain delay with the Nationals holding a 3-0 lead with two outs in the top of the fifth.
Morse said the injury has never affected his hitting, but throwing has been a different story. He's working on a throwing program now from various distances, doing 100 throws a day, and is happy with those results so far.
"The ball's coming out nice and easy," Morse said. "I don't feel any pain. If there's a positive out of all this -- my throwing mechanics are pretty sound."
Potomac and Myrtle Beach will pick up the suspended game in the top of the fifth on Wednesday and finish it, followed by a seven-inning matchup. Morse is going to play in those games, but neither he nor manager Brian Rupp were completely sure yet about his role. That will be decided before the games on Wednesday.
Morse said he'll do some more hitting and throwing again before the games and then be ready to play. As for when he'll be back with the Nationals, there's been a lot of talk that it will be later this week, but when asked, Morse just smiled and said he wants it to be "ASAP."
Washington is likely anxious for Morse to return, as he was arguably its best power hitter in 2011. And his first step, even though it was a small one, seemed pretty good Tuesday night.
"He looked fine," Rupp said. "Obviously, his goal here is to get through this healthy and make sure everything feels good, and he was able to do that.