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Morse, Lidge targeting early-June return

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Morse, Lidge targeting early-June return

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Morse is already rehabbing at the Nationals' extended spring training complex in Viera, Fla. and is set to begin playing in games Friday. Brad Lidge will join his teammate there tomorrow as each injured player seeks to rejoin the active roster in early-June.

Morse, out since Opening Day with a torn right lat muscle, will begin playing in games in Viera on Friday, according to manager Davey Johnson. The left fielder expects to appear in three games in Florida over the weekend, then go on a rehab assignment with one of the Nationals' minor-league affiliates next week.

Johnson said Morse will come off the disabled list no later than June 8, when the Nationals open an interleague series in Boston.

"That for sure," the manager said. "There's some people thinking it might be accelerated ahead of that. But we'll wait and see. We'll wait and see how he comes out of Friday's game."

The only question all along with Morse has been his ability to throw; the injury doesn't affect his swing at all. Thus, the team will be most interested to see how he handles playing in the field and will determine his eventual return date based on that progress.

"In Morse's mind, he's ready tomorrow as soon as he plays in one game," Johnson said. "But his throwing is what aggravated his arm. I'm not too much worried about his hitting, because he's always thinking about hitting. He's been hitting on the sly, probably throughout this whole thing. I'm more worried about him throwing, that it could aggravate it."

Lidge, meanwhile, threw off a bullpen mound at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon, the first time he's done that since having hernia surgery three weeks ago.

The veteran reliever will fly to Viera tomorrow and ramp up his rehab until he's ready to appear in minor-league games. Assuming all goes well, he's targeting June 12 or 13 to come off the DL.

"I've been pretty pleased with how fast my arm strength has come back," Lidge said. "I was able to do some real easy stuff to keep my arm loose. To take two weeks off, it can be pretty tough. But really we were able to do a few things to keep it loose, and it's come back real fast."

Injured closer Drew Storen also is in Viera at the moment, though he's not as far along in his recovery from elbow surgery as Lidge is in his recovery from hernia surgery. Storen is playing catch every other day and continues to target early-July for his return from the DL.

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Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Will Mike Rizzo continue to shape the Nationals? The Junkies believe he's too valuable to lose

Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wieters aren't the only important guys within the Nationals organization becoming free agents in 2019.

President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo is also becoming a free agent when his contract expires on October 31st.

In the final year of his five-year contract, the 57-year old is set to make $2.5 million.

RELATED: HOWIE KENDRICK RETURNING TO NATIONALS

Since joining the organization, Rizzo has turned the team into a legit World Series contender. They've won four division titles in the last six years under his guidance, but have been unable to get over the NL Division series hump. And even though that's a glaring red mark on his resume, Rizzo knows the success he's brought to the organization. 

When you look at what we accomplished,’’ Mike Rizzo said in a recent interview, “it’s really unsung and underappreciated. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished here. I like it here. I love the city. I love the team I put together. I like being a GM in the NL East. And I want to stay here. I just think I deserve to be treated like some of the best GMs in the game are, too.

Rizzo is talking about GM's like Cubs' Theo Epstein and Yankees' Brian Cashman, who've received big paydays over the last year.

I know we haven’t won the World Series, but I get tired of hearing how we can’t win the big one, or we can’t get out of the first round. We haven’t had that many chances.

Does Rizzo deserve an extension? The Sports Junkies think he does, but with GM's like the ones above cashing out, they can also see him wanting to test the open market.

"Why wouldn't they?", said Jason Bishop, noting his track record.

"There's a sense he wants to test the market," said Eric Bickel. That's the vibe I'm getting from him."

Rizzo is a weekly guest on the Junkies and has said that the organization will figure it out. However, the 2018 season may be the last time for a long time the Nats have a real shot at making a run before they lose some of their stars to other teams. If Rizzo does take that into consideration and decides to go elsewhere, the Junkies don't see him having any issues finding employment.

"If there was a time to roll, it would be after this season when you get your last run with this group," said Eric Bickel. And then If they don't pay you what you think you deserve, he'll be snatched up in 22 seconds."

RELATED: BEST OF NATS' RACING PRESIDENT TRYOUTS

If they do decide to sign him to an extension, will it be a long, drawn-out ordeal? The Junkies disagree on that one. 

"He is too valuable, Jason Bishop said. He's too valuable. You gotta ink him to a deal sometime during the season."

Luckily for D.C. sports fans, long, drawn-out extension talks aren't foreign to them.

To see their full discussion, click the media player above. 

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

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Nationals re-sign Howie Kendrick for two-years

WASHINGTON  -- The Nationals have agreed to a $7 million, two-year contract with outfielder Howie Kendrick, a deal subject to a successful physical.

Agent Pat Murphy confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Monday. USA Today was first to report the deal.

Kendrick, 34, hit .293 with seven home runs and RBIs in 52 games with Washington after he was acquired from Philadelphia. The versatile right-handed hitter got just three plate appearances off the bench in the playoffs.

In 12 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals, Kendrick is a .291 hitter with a .755 OPS. He's now primarily an outfielder for Washington after playing left field, second base, first base and other positions throughout his career.