WASHINGTON -- Nationals left fielder Michael Morse, who has yet to play a Major League game this season because of a torn left lat (shoulder) muscle, threw the baseball from 50 to 60 feet and didn't have any problems. Throwing has been Morse's biggest problem since he suffered the injury during Spring Training.
Morse is shooting for a June return when the Nationals play American League teams. He more than likely would be the team's designated hitter in those games.
"I think he can DH around the eighth of June, when we go Interleague," Johnson said. "Hopefully, that will give him a month before he has to throw from the outfield. Hopefully, that injury will heal. If he is throwing well enough in the next three weeks and can hit, he'll be able to play."
Johnson sticking with Rodriguez as closer
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson told the media on Monday that Henry Rodriguez is still the closer, after Rodriguez blew his third save of the season and allowed the game-winning grand slam to first baseman Joey Votto in a 9-6 loss to the Reds on Sunday.
Rodriguez will remain the ninth-inning reliever until Drew Storen returns from the disabled list after the All-Star break. Entering Monday's action, Rodriguez had a team-leading eight saves with a 4.70 ERA.
Johnson doesn't want to hear questions about Rodriguez's role with the team. In fact, Johnson went so far as to say that Rodriguez is doing a great job.
"Don't be asking those questions to me [any more]," Johnson said. "If there is something that is going to change, I'll volunteer it. [Rodriguez] has done a great job. It was a muddy field yesterday. I don't know anybody who could have gotten Votto out yesterday. [Votto] was unbelievable."
Wang progresses toward return to Nats
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang had another rehab start for Triple-A Syracuse on Monday. He pitched eight innings and allowed four runs on 11 hits in a 6-4 victory over Rochester.
Wang is expected to have one more rehab start before returning to the big leagues, according to manager Davey Johnson. It has not been determined if Wang will return to Washington's rotation or play a role in the bullpen. He was projected to be the fifth starter during Spring Training, but a left hamstring strain forced him on the disabled list.
With Wang out, left-hander Ross Detwiler -- who started Monday's series opener -- has stepped in as the fifth starter and has been tremendous.
"[Wang] looked good. I think he is real close," said Johnson. "That is left up to [general manager Mike] Rizzo. The question that it is going to come down to is, is he polished enough to come in and replace one of our starters and give us the same type of effort? [Monday] was a big step in the right direction. It depends on how he recovers from that, I would think."
When Wang gets back, Johnson said he will not have a six-man rotation.
Rehabbing Lidge throws from flat ground
WASHINGTON -- Nationals reliever Brad Lidge, who is on the disabled list because of a sports hernia, threw from 60 feet on flat ground on Monday.
If things go according to plan -- throwing on flat ground, bullpen sessions and rehab stints -- Lidge hopes to return to Major League action around the middle of June.
Before the injury, Lidge was splitting the closer's role with Henry Rodriguez.
Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth told manager Davey Johnson he could be back on the field three weeks earlier than expected. Werth said the timetable could be sped up because he had left wrist surgery one day after breaking the wrist against the Phillies on May 6.
Nationals closer Drew Storen, who is on the disabled list because of a bone chip in his right elbow, threw on flat ground on Monday without any problems. He told Davey Johnson that he felt great throwing the baseball. Storen is looking to be back in the Majors after the All-Star break.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.