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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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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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