We’ve seen Michael Morse collect five hits in his first two games since being pushed back from the No. 4 spot in the order to No. 5. So, was the move a stroke of genius? Or maybe Morse used a different brand of detergent on his game jersey? Point is, it’s too soon to tell. You can’t base anything off two games and Morse is not about to.
The one thing Morse does say, however, is that his torrid start — when he clubbed six homers the first week of the season — might not have been the best thing for him. I brought this up in my Talkin’ Baseball segment on Monday with Mitch Levy on Sports Radio KJR. The point that perhaps Morse had so much early success that he began swinging for the fences every time up.
“I’ve never started out hot,” Morse said. “And when I don’t start out hot, it helps me. It keeps me humble. Keeps me down.”
Morse says he needs to be kept humble from time to time.
Lately, he added, he’s been swinging at too many bad pitches that are extremely difficult to do anything with.
“I’ve got to stop swinging at balls in the dirt,” he said. “You don’t swing at the ball that’s on the ground rolling.”
Morse says he probably got into that habit because “I felt like I could hit everything.”
Again, that would appear to boil down to the fast start that he had, which perhaps fed his confidence a little too much. Morse says his recent success has nothing to do with being bumped one spot down in the order to No. 5 and that he could pretty much hit anywhere in the middle — from No. 3 to No. 6 — without it changing anything he sees in a game.
“I’d love to hit seventh,” he said, half-joking.
“I’d see a ton of fastballs,” he said.
Morse has indeed seen a ton of breaking balls and off-speed pitches so far this season. The double he stroked last night on a first-pitch curveball from C.C. Sabathia gave him a nice confidence boost more so than any new role as a No. 5 hitter.
One thing we’ve seen from Morse this month, even as his overall hitting numbers are still stagnant, has been a surprising number of walks. He’s got five already in 38 plate appearances in May, compared to only four over 104 plate appearances the entire month of April.
Morse attributes it to his trying to be more selective at the plate.
“I figure if I don’t swing at the balls in the dirt, maybe I’ll get some walks,” he said. “I don’t walk much, but I’m trying to.”
Morse then clarified his statement.
“I try to be aggressive,” he said. “But at the same time, if I’m not getting the pitches, I’ll take take the walk.”
After all, Morse is here to do some damage with his bat — not to walk his on-base percentage up to more respectable levels. He knows that, in the end, he’ll have to do more with the hittable pitches when he does see them and they won’t all be fastballs.
But at least this way, he won’t be burying himself in 0-2 counts right off the bat by chasing stuff that’s impossible to hit.
“I think once he gets going, it doesn’t really matter where he hits,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “I mean, we want him in the middlewith Kendrys (Morales) someplace, whether it’s 3-4 or 4-5. But he’s een a little bit better the last couple of days. There’s no reason to mess with it.”
As for tonight’s lineup, Dustin Ackley is back in there hitting second after a few days off.
“We wanted to keep (Kyle) Seager in the three-hole, so we’ve got to plug somebody in the two-hole,” Wedge said. “Ack’s been up there more than anybody else. He seemed like the best candidate, so let those lefties go up there and see if they can get us started.”
Felix Hernandez felt pretty sore this morning, but apparently got better as the day wore on and should be fine to make his next start.
Franklin Gutierrez ran the bases well today up in Seattle and the plan now could see him go out on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Tacoma either tomorrow or Friday.