Michael Morse back in the Nationals lineup Friday

For the first time in the 2012 season, Michael Morse will be in the Nationals lineup (and he's hitting cleanup, according to Nats Insider). After spending the first two months of the season on the disabled list with a lat muscle injury, Morse has been activated, the Nationals announced Friday.

To make room for Morse, the Nationals optioned outfielder Corey Brown to Triple-A Syracuse. Brown played in three games with Washington after having his contract purchased from Syracuse on May 26.

Morse, 30, had a breakout season in 2011, the first time he'd finally gotten an MLB opportunity at extended playing time. He rewarded the Nats by hitting .303/.360/.550 with 31 homers, 95 RBI, 73 runs and 36 doubles in 575 plate appearances.

For a bit in April, it looked like Morse was lost until around the All-Star break, but he recently flew through his rehab, especially his minor-league rehab stint, where he played in just seven games. In those games, across Class-A, High-A and Double-A, Morse hit .381/.435/.667 with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. That was evidently enough for the Nats.

With Morse back, the pitching-rich Nationals go Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Morse and Adam LaRoche in the 2-5 spots in the batting order. I don't think you'd call it scary, but it's pretty good and a far cry from what the Nats were forced to roll out there several times earlier this season -- especially if Zimmerman can get back to hitting like he did 2009-2010.

Washington enters Friday night with a half-game lead in the tough NL East.

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