The Jacksonville Suns are receiving some major league help for the final games of the season's first half, as Miami Marlins first baseman Michael Morse has joined the club on a major league rehab assignment.
Morse has been on the disabled list since May 26 (retroactive to May 24) with a right ring finger sprain. Morse has played in 37 games so far in 2015, hitting .211 with two homers and 10 RBI for Miami.
In his first two games with the Suns in Chattanooga against the Lookouts, Morse is 0-for-8 with a walk and five strikeouts.
Morse is an 11-year major league veteran who is a career .277 hitter with 101 home runs and 343 RBI in the big leagues. Morse in the majors has played for Seattle (2005-2009, 2013), the Washington Nationals (2009-2012), Baltimore Orioles (2013), and then the Giants in 2014. His most productive season was in 2011 with the Nationals when he hit .303 with 31 homers and 95 RBI, and he was in the top 10 in the National League in all three categories.
Morse was signed by the Marlins in December 2014 as a free agent after he was a key part of San Francisco's run to a World Series title, hitting .300 (6-for-20) in 10 postseason games with a double, home run, and five RBI. Four of his postseason RBI were in the Fall Classic, and he had two RBI in Game 7 of the World Series, driving in the game-winning run with a single in the top of the fourth inning that broke a 2-2 tie with the Kansas City Royals. Morse also hit a eighth-inning pinch-hit home run in Game 5 of the 2014 National League Championship Series against St. Louis. Morse with the Giants in 2014 hit .279 with 16 homers and 61 RBI in 131 games.
Morse joined me on the Suns Baseball Network for an extended interview that you can listen to below, but here are a few highlights from our conversation.
Hoover: You're on the disabled list right now trying to work your way back to Miami with a right ring finger sprain, when did you first notice that your finger wasn't feeling great?
Morse: Early on in the season. It was something I tried to deal with and it just kept getting worse and worse because we're out there everyday playing and hitting and using our hands. So it's something that kept aching and getting worse and worse and I tried to protect it by changing my swing and stuff but that surely didn't work, so it was the best bet to go on the disabled list and let it rest a little bit. And now I'm down here trying to get my swing right to go back and help the team.
Hoover: How did you feel in spring training, did you feel like you were ready to go for the season?
Morse: Yeah I felt awesome, in spring training I worked a lot on a lot of things and I got a lot accomplished. It sucks to start the season out the way I did, and you never want to get injured, it's something I didn't plan for. I'm happy that it's over and I'm back with the guys.
Hoover: You had some different offers for the 2015 season, but what made the Marlins offer stand out, I know you grew up in Broward County and grew up a Marlins fan.
Morse: Yeah I did grow up a Marlins fan. I remember playing them last year and saw a lot of talent. And I felt like this team has more than just the talent and they've got a good group of guys. So I thought it was a pretty cool mix if I could be able to be a part of that. And one of the things when I was talking to them (Marlins) was that I don't want to be a ‘one-and-done' I want to be a part of this thing going forward. That's why we signed a two-year deal. So far it's been a fun ride, a tough ride for me, at the same time I've learned to help some of the guys and I've tried to do my best trying to be a mentor to some of them.
Hoover: One of the people you talked to the most in the process of signing with the Marlins was general manager Dan Jennings, then in early May we get the surprising mood that Mike Redmond was fired and Jennings becomes the manager of the club, how surprised were you about that news, it was a wild 24 hours.
Morse: To me it's still pretty wild. But for Dan to go in a spot like he did, it's tough. It would be tough for any GM to go down there and go in the office, when you just fired the manager that the team kind of liked. It seemed like the guys liked Red. It was tough for the first couple of days, but I think Dan has won the respect of the players with the way he goes about his business. Don't get me wrong - it's two different views of the game from up top is one view and in the dugout it's totally different. What's good about it for Dan is that he's getting to see this other angle of baseball. It's just going to make him better at whatever he does. I'm enjoying having Dan down there, and I'm enjoying seeing my old buddy Mike Goff again.
Hoover: With the Suns on this rehab assignment, how did you feel at the plate and playing first base in your first game and how soon do you want to get back to the Marlins?
Morse: They're telling me to try to rush, some of the guys want me there right now, but I told them I'm not coming until I'm ready, 100 percent ready. And that means that my swing is right. I'm fortunate enough to get this opportunity to come here and really work on things, especially during a big league season. Last night my first couple at-bats I felt late, but my last two at-bats I felt really good, so it looks promising. Right now I'm not looking at the success of the hit, I'm looking at my pitch selection and the way I'm attacking the baseball.
Hoover: What have you thought of the play of Justin Bour who's seen the bulk of playing time at first base while you've been on the disabled list?
Morse: I think he's doing great. I told Justin from day one that I'm going to be his biggest fan. If I'm not playing, then I want whoever is going to play at first to kick butt. I talk to Justin everyday, he's doing really well. It's tough when you get right in there and you have success right away, then the league starts adjusting to you. This game, hitting-wise, is all about making adjustments, and I think he's making the adjustment right now and I'm hoping for the best for him.
Hoover: Of course you are getting close to being healthy, plus Jose Fernandez, Jared Cosart as well are also getting set to come back from the disabled list, there's still a lot of baseball left to be played in this 2015 season, I'm sure you're really excited to see what the rest of the year will look like.
Morse: Yeah I am, one thing about the Giants is that we had a great start and then in June and July we couldn't win to save our lives. The thing that I learned about that team is that no one panicked, everyone kept saying that there's a lot of baseball left, and there was. For us and the position we're in right now, I'm not worried at all, I think it's a good spot where we are, especially in this division it's a tough NL East and we have 90 or 80-something games left, so that's a lot of baseball.
The Suns look forward to teaming up with Fish Stripes all season long to give you these Jacksonville Suns reports. You can also find more information about the Suns by visiting our official website: jaxsuns.com, blog: sunsradio.com, Facebook page, Twitter page, and by listening to The Jacksonville Suns Podcast.