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Morse has some fun at shortstop


Morse has some fun at shortstop

Before Thursday's Nationals vs. Phillies game, Washington outfielder Michael Morse decided to spend part of his time warming up by taking fielding practice at shortstop. He is listed at 6'5", 245 pounds but may weigh even more. He is easily the biggest player on the Nats and one of the biggest men in all of professional baseball.

But despite his size, Morse was actually drafted as a shortstop by the Seattle Mariners and, as you'll see in this video, still has some skills at the position.

The Nationals are currently without their All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond who is likely to miss another month with a torn oblique muscle. Danny Espinosa has played well in his place, but what if the team sees another middle infielder go down? Could Morse step in and play short?

The possibility would be slim as Morse isn't the svelte young infielder he used to be. Plus, manager Davey Johnson has ruled out changing the position of his stars, at least when considering hypothetical situations. Bryce Harper was drafted as a catcher, but Johnson has pretty much said it will never happen. Mark DeRosa, in fact, has recently replaced Steve Lombardozzi as the emergency backup catcher after volunteering to Johnson.

Harper himself, though, has been practicing as a catcher before recent games. Johnson said in Milwaukee the 19-year-old took the field in complete catcher's gear to practice throwing players out at second base. And on Wednesday he played catch from his knees in the outfield with Sandy Leon before the game.

Harper and Morse showcasing the skills of their former positions has me thinking, what if the Nats fielded a lineup with players playing the positions they were drafted for? Harper and Jayson Werth were both taken as catchers and Edwin Jackson was drafted as an outfielder. It won't happen, but whatever. We can dream.

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Trea Turner hits for cycle against Rockies for the second time in his career

USA Today

Trea Turner hits for cycle against Rockies for the second time in his career

For the second time in his career, Trea Turner has hit for the cycle against the Rockies. This time, he did it in Nats Park. 

Turner started his day in the first inning with a solo shot to left-center to open the scoring for the Nationals. A fortunate bounce yielded an infield single in the second inning, and he smashed a liner into the right-field corner in the fifth. A double for most players, Turner's trademark speed enabled him to stretch it into a triple.

With a comfortable 8-0 lead in the seventh, Turner sent a 98 mph fastball into the gap in right-center field, completing the cycle and capping off an incredible night for the Nats. 

Turner is the fourth player to hit for the cycle this season, and the 27th since 1908 to do it multiple times in his career


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Max Scherzer's named Thursday's starter and penciled in for the postseason

Max Scherzer's named Thursday's starter and penciled in for the postseason

WASHINGTON -- So, it’s settled: Max Scherzer will pitch Thursday.

The Nationals’ best pitcher played catch in right field Tuesday. He felt well a day after a full bullpen session. He, finally, is aligned to make his first start since July 6.

Why Thursday? Well, this is where things are more interesting. Davey Martinez and his staff mapped out Scherzer’s possible starts from Thursday to the end of the season to see how he lines up if he would pitch every fifth game (not every fifth day because of scheduled off-days). If he pitches Thursday, this is how the rest of his season would look:

July 25 vs. Colorado

July 30 vs. Atlanta

Aug. 5 at San Francisco

Aug. 11 at New York

Aug. 17 vs. Milwaukee

Aug. 22 at Pittsburgh

Aug. 28 vs. Baltimore

Sept. 5 vs. New York

Sept. 8 at Atlanta

Sept. 14 vs. Atlanta

Sept. 20 at Miami

Sept. 25 vs. Philadelphia

Oct. 1 Wild-Card Game

Note three appearances against the first-place Braves. Consider a late-September start against Philadelphia. Then, of course, being on an extra day of rest should the wild-card game be necessary.

“You know Max,” Martinez said. “He wants to pitch today. He wants to pitch tomorrow. He wants to pitch Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”

Can things go wrong between now and then? Yes. A rainout could move Scherzer around. A recurrence of the mid-back strain which put him on the 10-day injured list July 13, retroactive to July 10, could happen. But, the Nationals took the time to map this out when considering whether Scherzer will pitch Thursday opposite Colorado or Friday against the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. 

One wrinkle in this projection: The final series of the season is at Nationals Park versus Cleveland. The Indians start play Tuesday just three games out of the division lead in the American League Central and two ahead for a wild-card spot. Which means Cleveland could be playing for everything (from the division title, to hosting the wild-card game, to just getting into the postseason) or nothing because it has clinched a spot. Scherzer would not be on schedule for that series.

More immediately, Monday’s rainout forced the Nationals to massage their rotation. Erick Fedde was moved from Monday’s start to the first game of Wednesday’s split day-night doubleheader. Anibal Sanchez will pitch Friday. Joe Ross is expected to fill the open spot Saturday. Patrick Corbin, Scherzer and Sanchez will line up to face Atlanta when it visits next week.

There was one other starting pitcher issue exposed Tuesday. Austin Voth (right biceps tendinitis) has stopped throwing. He will have an MRI this week and his future is to be determined. Not so for Scherzer. He's expected back Thursday, then Oct. 1, if necessary.