ATLANTA -- The Nationals will be without Michael Morse for their entire weekend series against the Braves, with manager Davey Johnson saying his left fielder likely won't be able to return from a left hand injury until Tuesday at the earliest.
Morse was initially hoping to take batting practice before tonight's series opener at Turner Field -- and potentially play -- but said he wasn't ready for that and hadn't really attempted to do anything with that hand since he removed himself from Tuesday's game in New York.
"I kind of thought it was being real optimistic that he'd be available today," Johnson said. "I think it's more likely next Tuesday. He's still bothered by it, and I didn't think it was going to heal in 48 hours."
Morse was diagnosed with a torn sheath and bone bruise, an injury he believes he initially sustained last month while compensating for a problem with his right thumb.
Because he played with it as long as he did, Morse is tempted to try to get back in the lineup as soon as possible. At the same time, he doesn't want to risk further injury that could affect his ability to play during the season's final weeks and beyond.
"Do I wait, trying to get it better? Or do I play?" he said. "It's kind of a balance."
Johnson said Morse would have to make it through an entire pregame workout before he'd consider a return, though he understands the injury may not heal 100 percent that quickly and the slugger may have to try playing through some pain.
"It also has to do with what you can tolerate," the manager said. "Obviously he's been trying to play through it, but he's dominant with the bottom hand, and that's the hand that the tear in the cuff is. So we'll have to wait and see."
Johnson doesn't feel an urgent need to rush Morse back, in part because of the options he has to replace him in left field. Roger Bernadina is starting tonight's series opener, though Tyler Moore could also get playing time before the weekend is up.