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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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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE