03/30/12 10:29 PM ET
Morse to begin season on DL with lat strain
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
While he didn't have any problems throwing the baseball, the outfielder will start the season on the disabled list because of a strained right lat muscle.
Morse, who is not expected to be activated until mid-April, will have a rehab stint with one of the Minor League affiliates once he is 100 percent. Morse doesn't have any problems hitting the baseball.
Morse will travel north with the Nationals, as manager Davey Johnson wants to keep his eye on the slugger so he can monitor his rehab.
Wang to remain with Nats while rehabbing
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have decided that right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will travel north with the team after Monday's game against the Red Sox.
Like closer Drew Storen and outfielder Michael Morse, manager Davey Johnson wants to keep an eye on Wang, who will be rehabbing a strained left hamstring.
Wang is already long tossing, but he is not expected to be activated from the disabled list until the end of April.
"He looks great throwing the ball, so I just want to keep looking at him for four or five days," Johnson said. "We are going to be cautious with him. He is a very important cog with what we have going here. We want to make sure we don't rush him to where it's a setback."
On March 15, Wang hurt the hamstring against the Yankees in the third inning after falling down while running toward first base after fielding a ground ball.
Yankees catcher Russell Martin hit a soft grounder first. Wang fielded the ball and fell down awkwardly after an initial misstep before colliding with Martin coming across the base.
Wang had been projected to be the fifth starter in Washington's rotation.
Space Coast Stadium giving Espinosa fits
VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson said that he is not worried about second baseman Danny Espinosa, who struck out three times in a 3-2 victory over the Marlins on Friday. All three strikeouts came against right-hander Josh Johnson.
After Friday's action, the switch-hitting Espinosa was hitting .238 without an RBI this spring. But Johnson reiterated that Espinosa, like many left-handed hitters, is having problems seeing the ball at Space Coast Stadium. For example, Espinosa is 8-for-40 (.200) with 17 strikeouts at home. On the road, he is hitting .304 (7-for-23) with six strikeouts.
"It's tough to see here," Johnson said. "The ball comes out of the clouds. It's not a good background. Almost all of the left-handers complain about it. He is going to be fine. He had a great BP today. I like the way he is swinging the bat. He is a tough guy, Johnson. He makes quality pitches. Espinosa is in a good frame of mind. I'm not worried about him."
Espinosa will hit second in the lineup to start the regular season. Johnson told Espinosa that he wants him to be more than a table-setter; He is a run-producer. Johnson wants Espinosa to be aggressive at the plate early in the count.
"There is nothing wrong with having that kind of pop in the top of the lineup," Johnson said.
Espinosa is not concerned about his swing, either.
"I've been hitting the ball well on the road. It's just a simple thing of not seeing the ball [at Space Coast Stadium]," Espinosa said. "My swing actually feels good. It's a lot shorter this year. When you are not picking the ball up and you are guessing, I try to battle through, trying to be patient and guess the pitches. It's just a battle. I try to make it better every day. It is what it is."
Nationals add Ankiel to 40-man roster
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals decided on Friday afternoon to put outfielder Rick Ankiel on the 40-man roster.
Ankiel, who signed a Minor League deal last month, has been hampered by a quad injury this spring, but the team doesn't believe he will start the season on the disabled list. Ankiel appeared in nine games and was 4-for-15 (.267) with one homer.
Now in his second season with the Nationals, Ankiel hit .239 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 2011. He also played spectacular defense in center field.
"He is a terrific teammate to have around," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "His defense kind of spoke for itself last year. We really feel good with where he is at with the bat right now. He has put in a lot of time with [hitting coach] Rick Eckstein and [manager] Davey [Johnson].
"I see his hands freed up in his swing, and he has been a lot more aggressive in covering the whole plate, instead of the inner half."
Tough roster decisions loom for Nats
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have some tough decisions as far as who makes the 25-man roster. Players such as Chad Durbin, Craig Stammen and Stephen Lombardozzi are having great springs.
Lombardozzi is a player to keep an eye on. Entering Friday's action, he was 19-for-58 (.328) with a home run and three RBIs. But will that be enough to crack the Opening Day roster?
"We feel Lombo brings great versatility for [manager] Davey [Johnson]," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It's all about, can Davey give him enough at-bats to make it worth his while to be in the big leagues, instead of playing every day in the Minor Leagues?"
The Nationals are not expected to make their final decisions until the end of Spring Training, which is early next week.
"It's really good competition. It's exactly what we were shooting for -- to have as many good players in camp as possible, and they all performed," Rizzo said. "These last remaining cuts are really tough because everyone has performed. They are all terrific guys to be around.
"Unfortunately, they [all] can't make it. That's the business side of baseball, but they all performed well and they are all great guys. I think we put ourselves in the position where we are going to take the best 25 north."
Blanco may opt out of Minor League deal
VIERA, Fla. -- A day after being reassigned to Minor League camp, Andres Blanco is leaning toward opting out of his Minor league deal and signing with another team, according to general manager Mike Rizzo.
Blanco played great defense, but he was just 2-for-32 (.063) in 19 Spring Training games.
Outfielder Jason Michaels, who was released on Thursday, could return to the organization, according to Rizzo.
"I have a great affection for Jason," Rizzo said. "He played terrific during Spring Training. He was an outstanding teammate. It was no coincidence that he lockered next to [Bryce] Harper. He just wasn't a fit for this team at this time. I would love to have him in the organization. I think he would help us or someone in the big leagues very soon."
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.