MIAMI -- Outfielder Michael Morse is inching closer to a return from the disabled list, and he will report to Class A Potomac on Tuesday to begin his rehab assignment.

Morse has been sidelined all season with a strained left lat, and he will finish extended spring training in Florida on Monday. Washington manager Davey Johnson said Morse has been fielding ground balls and fly balls and has also done a lot of throwing.

Morse could rejoin the Nats by Thursday's off-day in time for their six-game homestand against National League East foes Atlanta and New York, and could begin playing left field again by June 6, if not sooner.

Last season, Morse belted 31 home runs and drove in 95 runs while batting cleanup for the Nationals. With Morse injured this year, however, Adam LaRoche has settled into the cleanup spot, hitting .295 with eight homers and 35 RBIs.

"[Morse] told me to give him one game and then he could hit fourth for me," Johnson said. "I'll hit him anywhere if I have him. More than likely he would probably fit in the five-hole right now, but we'll see when they let him get in left field."

Johnson also said he is optimistic that infielder Mark DeRosa will be activated soon. DeRosa hit the DL on April 29 with a left oblique strain.

Nationals place Tracy on DL before MRI

MIAMI -- With an MRI exam scheduled for Tuesday in Philadelphia, infielder Chad Tracy was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right adductor strain on Monday.

Tracy injured his groin during Saturday's 8-4 win against the Braves, when he hobbled into second following a pinch-hit double to break a 4-4 tie.

Tracy will fly to Philadelphia on Monday night and meet with a doctor Tuesday. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Tracy had a lot of swelling in the area, but the skipper remained hopeful before the series opener in Miami that Tracy will not require surgery and that it's just a minor injury that will require treatment.

"Hopefully he won't need surgery," Johnson said. "He's another one [who's] valuable that we'll lose."

While Tracy landed on the 15-day DL, the Nationals moved outfielder Jayson Werth to the 60-day DL and selected the contract of outfielder Corey Brown from Triple-A Syracuse. In 48 games with the Chiefs, the left-handed Brown hit .297 with a .399 on-base percentage.

Tracy was Johnson's go-to left-handed hitter in late-game situations, and said with Tracy sidelined, either Brown or outfielder Roger Bernadina could fill that void.

"It's a good feeling to know they called me up to possibly help them out," Brown said. "Whatever they want me to do, whether it's coming in on defense or to pinch-run, hopefully I can help out in some way."

Nats option Moore, call up help at catcher

MIAMI -- The Nationals optioned Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse following Monday's 5-3 loss to the Marlins, and they will recall catcher Jhonatan Solano to bolster depth at the position.

Because catcher Jesus Flores is day to day with a strained right hamstring, and with uncertainty surrounding how long he will be out, the Nationals wanted to bring in some help. Washington has already seen two of its catchers hit the disabled list this season: Wilson Ramos with a torn right ACL and Sandy Leon with a sprained right ankle.

Carlos Maldonado started behind the plate Monday, and Flores caught the pitchers when they warmed up at the start of innings, but Nationals manager Davey Johnson doesn't want to rush Flores back and have his injury linger.

"I'm not sure I would want to take a chance barring everything else that's happened around here," Johnson said of rushing Flores back.

The postgame move sends Moore, ranked the No. 13 prospect in the Nationals' system by MLB.com, back to the Chiefs. Moore joined the Nationals on April 29 and played sparingly during his stint with the big league club. He hit .158 (3-for-19) in 12 games with Washington.

"I felt bad from the get-go having him in a situation where he's playing out of position and he's a regular player," Johnson said. "He's not a guy that can sit and then come out and play. ... That's not the role you want for a player, a young, talented prospect."

While Moore said the news was a blow, he understood the team's need for depth at backstop and acknowledged the opportunity it gives him to play on an everyday basis with the Chiefs and help further his development.

"Sitting on the bench was good because I got to learn roles and learn how the game went," Moore said. "I'm excited to go down, but at the same time, it's kind of bittersweet."