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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – You can thank Mark De Rosa, in part, for the fact that Michael Morse has a Giants uniform hanging in his locker this spring.
You can also thank De Rosa for scaring Morse into thinking he might not play at all.
“He started pressing on my wrist saying, `Does it hurt here? Does it hurt here? It does?” Morse said. “Then he just started walking away, like, `Ohhh…’”
As Giants fans surely remember, a torn tendon sheath in De Rosa’s wrist limited him to a handful of games and just one home run over the course of his two-year, $12 million contract with the club. Morse appeared to have another of those dreaded, power-sapping, career-altering wrist injuries last year after he jammed his left hand sliding into a base.
But the surgical fix turned out to be much easier than expected. Morse was swinging a fungo off a tee a week after surgery last October to shave down a bone spur, and he was taking full swings in the cage before Thanksgiving. He expects to be ready to take full hacks in Thursday’s first full-squad workout.
And it’s De Rosa that helped steer him to Scottsdale Stadium.
“He told me that this is the place I’ll want to play,” said Morse, who profiles as the everyday left fielder and No.7 hitter. “He went on and on about how well the players are treated, how great the fans are. He thinks very highly of San Francisco.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy thought highly of Morse ever since they went to Taiwan together in 2011 as part of a touring all-star squad. It was Bochy who kept lobbying for the 6-foot-5 power hitter, and eventually the Giants found the $6 million to lure him on a one-year contract.
Bochy might be a career National League skipper, but he likes three-run homers as much as Earl Weaver did.
It’s always dangerous when a power hitter sustains a wrist injury. It took several seasons for Jayson Werth to get past his wrist issues. De Rosa was never the same player after he hurt himself while taking a swing against Randy Johnson.
And Morse had a near complete outage last May. The Florida native, who hit 31 homers in 2011 for Washington, got off to a terrific start with the Mariners last season. He hit nine homers in 101 at-bats through May 1. But shortly thereafter, he jammed his wrist while sliding into a base.
He tried to play through it. He taped his wrist. He swung one-handed. He tried to ignore the numbness that would shoot down his arm. And he hit just four home runs over his last 211 at-bats. The Mariners did all kinds of tests on his ligaments and found nothing. But Morse knew something was wrong.
“I couldn’t do a push up,” he said.
On Werth’s insistence, Morse went to the Mayo Clinic after the season and met with Dr. Richard Berger. An ultrasound showed the bone growth that was creating an impingement, or limiting his range of motion.
“He said even if they didn’t find anything, he was cutting me open,” Morse said. “He said, `If you’re telling me something is wrong, then something is in there.’”
The quick procedure barely left a scar and Morse was told he didn’t even need to follow a rehab protocol. He understands when De Rosa and others blanch at the thought of a power hitter coming off wrist surgery. But he insists he won’t have to hold anything back.
And it’s a pretty safe bet that Giants left fielders will account for more than the five home runs – fewest in the majors – that they managed last season. It sure looks like Morse has done a few push-ups over the winter. And his reputation as a fast starter should be most welcome on a club that needs a cleaner start out of the gate.
So … who does Morse want to face in live batting practice? Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain?
“Whoa, whoa,” said Morse, smiling. “Don’t I get a coach first?”