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Morse removed in 4th inning of Nats game

Morse removed in 4th inning of Nats game

Michael Morse was removed from today's Nationals victory in the middle of the fourth inning, a surprise mid-game benching the club said was due to right thumb soreness even though manager Davey Johnson later cited an issue with Morse's hand and Morse himself insisted nothing was physically wrong.

"My hand feels fine," Morse said. "My hand feels good."

Morse has dealt with two separate nagging injuries over the last month. His thumb acted up in mid-August while the Nationals were playing in San Francisco, the result of being jammed on several inside pitches. Then on Aug. 24 in Philadelphia, he was struck by a pitch on the outside of his right hand, knocking him out of the entire series.

Morse hadn't noted any problems with either area since and appeared to be fine through the first 3 12 innings of today's game against the Cubs. But when the top of the fourth ended with Morse mimicking a catch in left field as teammate Bryce Harper actually snagged the flyball a few feet away, Morse and Johnson were seen having an animated discussion as soon as he returned to the dugout.

Roger Bernadina then came up to bat for Morse to lead off the bottom of the fourth and took his spot in left field the following inning.

Several innings later, the Nationals announced Morse departed the game with "right thumb soreness."

"Morse was complaining about his thumbhand, where he got hit, was acting up," Johnson said after the game. "I knew their pitcher was going to pound him in, and I didn't want to aggravate it worse. He didn't want to come out. I just said: 'You're coming out.' I don't need you aggravating it."

Morse later insisted the thumb and hand injuries were not connected in any way and insisted neither was bothering him enough to warrant removal from today's game.

Asked if Johnson took him out for precautionary reasons, the outfielder said: "I don't know. I have no clue. Whatever he says."

Johnson did say he expects to have Morse back in his lineup for tomorrow night's game.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others