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Morse could return for Nats' next homestand

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Morse could return for Nats' next homestand

Though he's been targeting a June 8 return for some time, injured left fielder Michael Morse believes he could actually rejoin the Nationals sooner than that, perhaps during their next homestand.

Morse, out since spring training with a torn right lat muscle, has begun swinging a bat and playing catch for the first time since he was shut down during the first week of April after experiencing a setback while on a rehab assignment with Class A Hagerstown.

The Nationals have targeted the June 8 date as a likely return because it would allow Morse to ease his way back by serving as designated hitter for interleague series in Boston and Toronto.

Morse, though, told manager Davey Johnson this week he believes he could be ready when the Nationals open a six-game homestand on June 1 against the Braves.

"That was my day June 8," Johnson said. "I threw that out there trying to give the trainers and the doctors a date that I wanted him back swinging, because he could DH against the American League clubs on the eighth. We'd been set for that for about three weeks, and he came to me and said: 'When you come off the road trip, I'll be ready.' But he's feeling his oats."

Before the Nationals let Morse return that soon, they'll have to be convinced his injury is completely healed -- at last check, doctors said the tear was 80 percent healed -- and see evidence of him both hitting and throwing in rehab games.

Morse intends to go to extended spring training in Viera, Fla., next week while the Nationals are on the road. If things progress well there, he could go play for one of their minor-league affiliates around Memorial Day.

"He looks strong," Johnson said. "I've been in the workout room when he's working out, and he's doing things that you can't do when you're hurt. He's lifting things and doing things. He's in good shape. I'm not worried about him running around the outfield, because he's been doing a lot of aerobics and stuff like that and his legs are in great shape. As big and strong as he is, the doctors tell him he can go, and they're expanding and letting him do pretty much everything right now. So I don't think it's going to take much time."

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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