(AP) – Michael Morse is counting on a comeback season, and the San Francisco Giants fully expect their new left fielder to bring life to a lineup that sure could use some added power.
In seven games, he already has made a noticeable impact. Fans will get their first glimpse when Morse makes his home debut Tuesday at AT&T Park against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is a key new face for a franchise that missed the playoffs last season after a special 2012 in which the Giants won a second World Series championship in three years.
Morse is batting .350 (7 for 20) with a homer, five RBIs, five runs scored and a double to help the Giants to an impressive 5-2 start and early lead in the NL West.
”I haven’t felt this good in a long time,” Morse said. ”To play every day, then I know I’m doing something good. Hopefully that helps and contributes to the team and the success we’re going to have.”
Right-hander Tim Hudson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the ball in the home opener looking to build on a dominant performance in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Arizona, when he allowed three hits while striking out seven over 7 2-3 innings.
It was his first appearance since suffering a season-ending right ankle fracture July 24, when the Mets’ Eric Young Jr. inadvertently stepped on the back of the pitcher’s lower right leg while Hudson covered first base. He later underwent surgery. Hudson still earned himself a $23 million, two-year contract from San Francisco.
”He had a bad ankle fracture last year, so that was the No. 1 concern this spring and the focus – to see how he bounces back and how he takes care of that thing every day and gets himself ready to pitch,” Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said. ”He had a lot of extra work to do, whether it was bunting or running the bases. And between the medical staff and himself, it was able to heal. He’s been able to get out there and keep his normal routine, and he’s done a nice job. He’s had a solid spring and a great first start.”
Shutting down Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt in San Francisco is another challenge altogether for Hudson.
Goldschmidt is 29 for 88 (.330) with five homers, 21 RBIs, eight doubles, 15 runs scored, a .431 on-base percentage and .614 slugging percentage in San Francisco. He also has drawn 17 walks in 25 appearances at the waterfront ballpark.
Goldschmidt is a .286 career hitter against Hudson with three hits in 14 at-bats, none for extra bases. In last week’s four-game series at Chase Field, Goldschmidt batted .412 against the Giants with three doubles, a home run and three RBIs but the Diamondbacks (2-7) lost three times.
Arizona’s Trevor Cahill (0-2, 6.30) could use some run support as he searches for his first win Tuesday.
The right-hander, who has yet to be backed by a run, opposed Hudson last week, giving up two runs and four hits in six innings.
A bonus for Bay Area baseball fans: The weather has turned after a week of rainstorms twice interfered with the Oakland Athletics’ opening homestand. The forecast calls for 70 degrees and clear skies Tuesday afternoon.
”I’ve always been a fan of San Fran, the ballpark, especially the guys on this team, a great group of guys,” Morse said.
Morse received a $6 million, one-year contract in December. Now, he’s counting on staying healthy.
Morse was traded from Seattle to Baltimore on Aug. 30. He missed time last year with a troublesome wrist, a broken right pinkie and strained right quadriceps before returning from the disabled list in late July.
The nine-year veteran batted .215 with 13 home runs and 27 RBIs in 88 games, then had offseason surgery on his wrist.
”It’s been tough. Injuries are something you can’t predict,” he said. ”You just try to keep playing hard and stay on the field. That’s my main goal.”
Morse has made it his focus to return to his 2011 form with the Nationals. He batted .303 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs.
”The biggest key was I stayed healthy. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary,” he said. ”It’s nothing I think I can’t do. I just went out there and had fun, that was the biggest thing.”