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What's up with Nyjer Morgan getting caught so much?

Nyjer Morgan was caught stealing again Wednesday night, making him only 6 for 12 this season in stolen base attempts. Morgan is tied for the league lead with Matt Kemp, having been caught stealing six times.

Manager Jim Riggleman said he wouldn't do anything to stem Morgan's aggressiveness on the bases. He credited opposing teams for controlling Morgan, and also believes he has been safe on several of his attempts.

"They do a good job with Nyjer," Riggleman said. "It's a tough thing. When you have a guy like Nyjer, you can't really just say, 'That's enough, stop.' That's a big part of his game, to create a little nervousness for that pitcher, put some pressure on the catcher. They've answered that challenge on the other side.

"A lot of times, it looks like he may have been in there. I think he's come up on the short end a few times. With all due respect to the umpires, I think he's been safe a few times down there. But the key is to not make it so close."

On Wednesday night, Morgan slid into second base headfirst. This spring, the Nationals instructed Morgan to break him of the habit, which lead to his broken wrist a year ago. Morgan has reached a point where he's good at sliding feet-first, comfortable enough that hurting his legs is not a threat. But Riggleman said Morgan's success rate has been lower when sliding feet-first.

"We talk about it," Riggleman said. "The message that we're giving him is ... the times where he feels like this is going to be really close, like last night, he feels like he gets a little edge going headfirst."

It should not be overlooked that Morgan is giving himself chances to steal. After going 3 for 5 with two doubles last night, he has a .362 on-base percentage and a .452 slugging percentage this year. Morgan is hitting .347 (17 for 49) in his last 11 games.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 6, 2010; 6:58 PM ET
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As I posted last night, I think Nyjer was in, but would've got the call if he went in with only his right arm. The bang-bang call, especially with a pitchout, will go to the defense.

I'm not thrilled to see Nyjer go headfirst especially after his injury last year, and how important he is for our team. But the few times I've seen him do it since last year, he should be going to the far side of the bag (including on the pickoff at first). We learned that in high school ball...

Meanwhile, he's still gotta work on his feet first sliding (so late) and flying past the bag.

I'm not hatin' -- I LOVE Nyjer and the energy he brings plus the way he's been making things happen this year. Like last year in the month he was healthy, he makes things happen, and this team really responds with his lead.

Posted by: mo_dc | May 6, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

And, of course, he'd be 8 for 12 if not for a couple of rather bizarre scoring decisions where they gave, effectively, a forced error on two bad throws when he was picked off. Those both should have counted as steals, instead they go in the caught stealing category. Since when do you assume the out on a non-force play?

Posted by: truke | May 7, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

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