CHICAGO -- After two rehab games for Double-A Harrisburg, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse went to New York on Saturday to get treatment for his strained right lat (back) muscle, according to manager Davey Johnson. Morse is expected to return to the Senators on Sunday to continue his rehab assignment.
In two games, Morse is 2-for-6 [.333] with a home run and one RBI. Morse doesn't have problems swinging the bat, but he still is feeling some discomfort while throwing the baseball.
Morse is expected to return to the Nationals within a week, and Johnson already said that he will not hesitate to put the slugger back in the lineup.
As for Rick Ankiel, he hasn't had any problems with his tight left quad. In two rehab games for the Senators, Ankiel is 1-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. He is expected to return to the Nationals a few days after Morse's arrival.
Once the pair returns to the big leagues, the Nationals have to take two players off the 25-man roster. Johnson did not say which two players are on the bubble.
Johnson was asked how important it was for outfielder Roger Bernadina to step up within the next week.
"Bernie had a great spring," the manager said. "He is still a young player, as far as playing in the big leagues. He still has tremendous potential. But [Ankiel and Morse] are knocking on the door, and they are getting closer. This is an important time for [Bernadina]."
Bernadina, who is out of Minor League options and could be traded, needs to take advantage of his speed and show some pop, something he did not do last year. In the first game against the Cubs on Thursday, Bernadina went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Former Nat Byrd won't rule out DC return
CHICAGO -- Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd has heard the rumors about the Nationals having interest in his services. Byrd said that he wouldn't mind going back to the nation's capital.
"Why not? The Nationals have a good team, but I have something to finish in Chicago," he said. "I love Chicago. If the Cubs can get a piece that can make them better, that's all I want.
"I heard from our reporters. The Nationals are looking for a center fielder and my name was in the mix. Like I said, it's always something. Rumors are out there. It will be interesting."
Byrd played for the Nationals in 2005 and 2006, and hit a combined .245 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs. Since then, however, Byrd was able to find his swing with the Rangers and Cubs, and credits Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo for his success.
If Byrd is not traded, he can become a free agent after the season. He said he would be interested in returning the Nationals this offseason.
"I had a great time in Washington," Byrd said. "I still have friends over there. My boy [Ryan Zimmerman] is still handling things. Jayson Werth is there. I'm good friends with Michael Morse. They have some great people over there."
Based on what general manager Mike Rizzo has said since Spring Training, Byrd, 34, would not appear to be a long-term solution for the Nationals. As of now, the Nationals are looking for Bryce Harper to play the position in the future.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.