Morse to serve as backup catcher
With Pudge out few days, Nieves will start behind plate
WASHINGTON -- With Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez out for a few days with a lower back strain, Will Nieves will start behind the plate, while first baseman/outfielder Mike Morse is expected to be the backup. Morse was working on his catching skills in Spring Training.
Adam Kennedy and Alberto Gonzalez also volunteered to catch if needed. Of all the non-catchers on the Nats' roster, left fielder Josh Willingham has the most experience behind the plate. But manager Jim Riggleman doesn't want to use Willingham because of back problems he has had in the past.
Morgan not dwelling on defensive gaffe
WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan said he left his cell phone and TV off after he went home Saturday night. He knew he would be bombarded with phone calls and news reports about his blunder in the outfield against the Orioles.
In the fourth inning with the score tied at 2 and Matt Wieters on first base, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones drove an 0-1 pitch to deep center field. Morgan jumped as the ball hit the wall, but in not making the catch, Morgan thought the ball was gone and threw his glove to the ground out of frustration.
Left fielder Josh Willingham ran over and retrieved the ball, but by the time it reached the plate, both Wieters and Jones scored to give Baltimore a 4-2 lead, and Jones was awarded an inside-the-park home run.
"I'm not going to look at the replay," Morgan said. "I feel fine. I'm still going to go out there [and be aggressive]. It was one play. One play can't dictate my career. I'm not happy I made the play, but you have to move on. You can't dwell on it. Being booed, that's whatever. It's not good, but oh well."
Manager Jim Riggleman said he thought about sitting Morgan on Sunday against the Orioles, but he changed his mind. The skipper reiterated that Morgan made an aggressive mistake. Entering Sunday's action, Morgan was hitting .259 with eight RBIs.
"I have to do what's best for the ballclub," Riggleman said. "I have to keep in mind that Nyjer has been struggling. I don't want to knock him when he is down. He is a vital part of this ballclub. He plays hard. That's what I ask -- play hard, give me a good effort, and he always does that. He made a mistake. He misread where the ball was. It was a hustling mistake."
Maxwell back, but for how long?
WASHINGTON -- With left-hander Scott Olsen on the disabled list, the Nationals recalled outfielder Justin Maxwell from Triple-A Syracuse.
This is Maxwell's second tour of duty with the club this season. Manager Jim Riggleman said Maxwell will be used off the bench.
Maxwell was hitting .267 (16-for-60) with four RBIs and 13 walks in 16 games at Syracuse. In his past four games, Maxwell went 7-for-19 with five runs scored, two doubles and one RBI.
The question is, how long will Maxwell stay in the big leagues? The Nationals need a starting pitcher by Saturday, and Maxwell may be the odd man out again.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.