MIAMI -- Having successfully made it through his first rehab game at Class A Potomac, Michael Morse could be on target to return to the Nationals lineup as soon as Friday.
Manager Davey Johnson said Morse (out since early March with a torn lat muscle) has been making throws from the outfield during pregame drills and will likely start in the outfield for Potomac tomorrow night after serving as designated hitter again tonight.
Morse made two plate appearances during last night's rain-shortened game in Woodbridge, walking once and striking out once.
"The timing's a little off, but other than that he feels fit and ready to go," Johnson said. "So his timetable will probably be sped up. We'll see how he does today and tomorrow, but he could be back in D.C. soon."
Asked if that means it's possible Morse could come off the disabled list in time for Friday's homestand opener against the Braves, Johnson replied: "I'd say it's an outside possibility."
There was some thought Morse might only be available to hit for a while upon his return and would thus serve as DH for next weekend's interleague series in Boston. But Johnson said today he won't hesitate to put Morse in the lineup as soon as he returns.
"I'd throw him right out there," the manager said. "If he's able to go, I'll throw him right in the lineup. He might connect and hit one hard. And it would be a welcome addition. ... Why waste the at-bats in Potomac?"
When Morse does return, don't be surprised if he does so at different position than originally planned. Steve Lombardozzi's emergence as a viable leadoff hitter and left fielder will probably convince Johnson to move Morse to right field and slide Bryce Harper to center field.