Nyjer Morgan moves out of the leadoff spot
Since Nyjer Morgan arrived with the Nationals on July 3 last year, he has never batted anywhere but leadoff in the 93 games he's started. That changed today when Manager Jim Riggleman moved him to the second spot in an effort to snap Morgan's month-long slump.
In May, Morgan is batting .202 with a .262 on-base percentage and a .232 slugging percentage. With the Nationals offense searching for runs, Riggleman hoped to spark Morgan and his team by placing Cristian Guzman one spot ahead of Morgan.
"Just basically give him a little different feel walking up to the plate," Riggleman said. "I really got to hit Nyjer first or second - there's really no place else I want to hit him. He's not been getting on base leading off, so really just try to get a different feel."
Morgan's defense has also plummeted since last season, when he provided an instant ignition for the Nationals at the plate and in center field. The difference in Morgan's UZR/150 is more than 50 runs, a staggering figure. Morgan has also been thrown out stealing eight times this year. The struggles, Riggleman believes, have been independent on one another.
"A lot of parts of his game right now, he's frustrated with - his base stealing, his on-base percentage," Riggleman said. "I think he knows he's a better center fielder than he's showed to this point. But I think they're all separate entities that are piling up on him a little bit. He's probably feeling it. There's nothing you can do except play yourself out of it."
Morgan had no comment on the switch. Riggleman intimated the change is more of an experiment than a permanent arrangement. If batting second doesn't shake Morgan's funk, than he'll move back to his usual spot.
"If he's pressing, that's just going to be his makeup if that happens," Riggleman said. "Can't stop him from pressing. We put him out there every day. I'm just hoping to relax him a little bit getting him out of the leadoff spot. If he is pressing, maybe that'll take a little bit off him. If that doesn't resolve it, we'll put him back in the leadoff spot."
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