Morse, Lidge targeting early-June return

Morse, Lidge targeting early-June return
May 23, 2012, 10:26 pm
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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.