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Nyjer Morgan has his say on collision, batting eighth

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan expressed his displeasure with Manager Jim Riggleman's public admonishment of his running into St. Louis Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson on Saturday night, calling it "very unacceptable" while defending the play and adding he hoped not to escalate the situation.

Morgan, who is back in the lineup tonight hitting eighth, believes he should have been in the lineup Sunday. On Sunday, Riggleman said Morgan's play at home plate -- which cost the Nationals a run because he did not touch the base -- was "unprofessional" but indicative of Morgan's overall style.

Morgan "did an unprofessional thing. He went after the catcher," Riggleman said Sunday. "So I certainly don't condone that, but we've all made mistakes. I think that's not Nyjer's style of play to do something like that. That's totally uncharacteristic."

Riggleman also explained he kept Morgan out of the lineup because he feared the Cardinals would intentionally hit Morgan and start a beanball war.

Today, Morgan was asked if he had received an explanation for why he didn't play. He and Riggleman had not spoken about the one-game hiatus, but Morgan gave expanded thoughts on the situation and the play.

"I guess it was his thought that maybe I shouldn't be in the lineup," Morgan said. "I don't know why. As players, we police ourselves. Maybe, I guess, from how he hit thought it was, I guess he perceived it as some nasty play with the intentions of trying to hurt somebody before coming to me and asking me about the situation, which was very unacceptable. But on my half, I'm not going to go ahead and throw fuel on the fire. I'm going to try to be as professional as I can about the situation. Basically, I thought I should have been in there yesterday.

"I probably knew something was coming. But I know as another player, they're not going to try to intentionally hit me in the [expletive] head. I'm probably one of the league leaders in getting hit by pitches this year.* Getting hit by a pitch, you've got to take your lumps.

(*Morgan has been hit eight times, tied for eighth in the National League.)

"You go out there and play hard and don't try to hurt somebody. It happened to maybe look like that. I don't want to be perceived as a dirty player. It was just an intense play. From what I saw, I saw [Albert] Pujols threw a nice little pump fake. I was going full-speed around third. It was just what I saw. I thought maybe the ball was coming. I saw the catcher maybe tense up. I could have took the kid out if I wanted to, but I kind of grazed him. It wasn't, in my eyes, intentional. From what I saw, I guess have should have slid. Next time, I'll slide."

Asked if he thought he'd done anything wrong on the play, Morgan said , "Besides not touching the base, no. Just playing hard. Like I said, I don't really want to throw on the fire."

Asked if he and Riggleman had spoke, Morgan said, "He just basically did a cardinal sin. You don't blast your player in the papers. That's all right."

Riggleman said he spoke with Morgan Friday night, after Morgan was picked off first base in the eighth inning even though the Nationals trailed, 4-0. Riggleman defended Morgan in his postgame comments and took the blame himself that night despite Morgan's obvious mistake. Riggleman did not address Saturday's play at the plate with Morgan.

"That's self-explanatory," Riggleman said. "There's not much to talk about that play."

Said General Manager Mike Rizzo: "Whenever things like that happen -- we address a lot of things. We don't announce them. We don't talk about them. He's family, and we keep all of our family stuff in house."

Morgan, the Nationals' leadoff hitter most of the season, expressed no qualms with hitting eighth.

"Being that he's the skipper, he's going to make those calls," Morgan said. "I could care less about hitting eighth in the lineup or whatever. That doesn't really get to me. I know where I should be in the lineup, but he's the skipper of this team and as far as I know that's what he's going to do."

Riggleman has moved Morgan down in the order because of his .316 on-base percentage, which is nine points below league average and 62nd out of 75 qualifying players in the National League. Riggleman prefers Morgan at leadoff but said his drop in getting on base became untenable. Before this season, Morgan had a .362 on-base percentage.

"I think our ball club is best if he's hitting leadoff," Riggleman said. "As we build the club for the future, that's what we want him to do. It's got to get to a point where we're getting more in the .340, .350, .360 on-base percentage for him to really nail that spot down for us. I think that he will get back to where he was last year in the bigger picture. Our ball club will fare better with him at the top of the lineup. Right now, it's just not happening."

Much of the discrepancy owes to Morgan running into worse luck on balls put in play. Morgan's batting average on balls in play before this year was .357. This year, it's .309. His strikeout rate, 15 percent, is virtually identical to previous seasons. Riggleman believes Morgan will revert to his career norms.

"For the most part, it's something you have or you don't have, but his history says that he does get on base at a higher clip than what he's done this year," Riggleman said. "We saw it last year when he came to us."

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 30, 2010; 6:45 PM ET
Categories:  Nyjer Morgan  | Tags: Nyjer Morgan  
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Next: Nationals roster comings and goings


wow. how's that quote go? "Why isn't Nyjer playing? Look at the back of his baseball card."

Who's this guy think he is?

Posted by: Section406 | August 30, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

wow is right. he's just begging to be DFA'd

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 30, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Adam's having a productive rain delay.
Dirty, not dirty, I don't know.
But a.316 OBP, arm far too weak to play MLB outfield, not knowing some rules regarding baserunning, getting picked of with amazing regularity, leading the league in caught stealing, throwing to the wrong base too often....that I know about.

So, seriously, who was that dude wearing Nyjer's jersey last July, and where the heck is he? That dude was dynamic.

And Riggleman's laid back style has hurt Nyjer. He made plenty of mistakes early in the year, (baserunning, bunting and throwing), they went uncorrected for far too long, and now Nyjer and the rest of us are paying for it.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 30, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that Riggleman and the coaching staff addressed his behavior. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to have taken.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | August 30, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Open mouth, insert foot, exit stage left. Bizarro year continues.

Posted by: joemktg1 | August 30, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

John McLaughlin is on the phone.

He says: "Bye bye."

Posted by: Drew8 | August 30, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

His comments show all the acumen for successful relations with his boss that his base running shows for success in baseball.

And we thought Dibble stepped in it.

Posted by: NatsFly | August 30, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I was at that game, sitting in sec. 319, and thus looking more or less straight down at home when Nyjer came in from third.

Anderson was not at all "tensed up." He was standing a full step or two into fair territory, nowhere close to the plate. Nyjer came right at him, making no attempt whatsoever to step on the plate. Of course, as it's well known now, Pudge had to remind him of the reason he was running down the line, and pushed him back to touch home.

Morgan has Dibble-itis this week. I think he just established himself as a very dedicated hockey player. Too bad, but it looks like the Nats have an outfield after all, with Bernadina, Morse and Willingham. Guess they need to shop for a fourth one--but I don't think it's Nyjer.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | August 30, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer, you just bought your ticket out of DC.
Thank you.

Posted by: scmonty1 | August 30, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

In Nyjer's child like world he obviously believes that his words can make things go away. That was a bush league play and everyone who has seen it knows it.Whether his pathetic play,childish stupidity or his mouth cause him to be released I could care less. Just pick one and get rid of this clown,he is one of the worst major leaguers I have ever seen.

Posted by: wellscats | August 30, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Nyjer for completely duping all of us into thinking he wasn't a d-bag. Wow. Is this REALLY the same guy from last year?

Posted by: jdwood84 | August 30, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Dang. And I have an extra Nyjer bobblehead a Phillies fan gave me at the game. Shoulda put it on craigslist the next day while it still had value.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 30, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

a fast but awful base runner who makes too many mistakes. one of the differences in being where we are, and being better, is getting better production out of his position not only offensively but defensively....he's got a weak arm, throws to the wrong base, misses cut off's and yet, he's the best we have, for now.

Posted by: outrbnksm | August 30, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

"[P]ublic admonishment"????? The word is "admonition."

Posted by: 1995hoo | August 30, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Never has so much been made out of so little if i hear he cost us a run one more time i gonna puke WE WON THE FREAKIN GAME BY NINE RUNS, HELLO!!! what did it matter that he didn't touch the plate some of you couch potato fantasy league mangers need to get a life, an outfield of Morse,Bernie and JWill sounds like recepie for lot of doubles and triples next year, you want to run Nyjer out of town? fine but be carefull what you wish for.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 30, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

This guy lives in a dream world. He thinks he's alot better then he actually is. He's totally undisiplined and needs to eat a little humble pie because he hasn't built up much collateral with this team.

Posted by: pstotts15 | August 30, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Dargramps, if that was just one boneheaded play out of the season, nobody would be screaming for his head now. But you could make a highlight reel of his bad plays - the missing of the cutoff guys (allowing runners to get an extra base), getting picked off all the time, flinging his glove down when he missed that fly ball, now this. The Nats are a weak team; they need every man they can get. It doesn't help when they start off a man down because the manager has to sit one of them down for his own protection.

Nyjer could be a real asset to the team - if he just kept his head screwed on straight. But he's costing them outs on the basepaths and giving them up on the field. That's unpardonable.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 30, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, commenter known as "1995hoo" -- There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word "admonishment." Look it up. It was used correctly in this article.

I trust that the Nationals will do the right thing, baseball-wise, with Nyjer Morgan. If they believe he's a clubhouse disruption, they will cut him, just as they did with Elijah Dukes in March. Thus far, that's not how they see him.

Posted by: MrRamsey | August 30, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Is Riggs really suggesting that a .357 BABIP is sustainable for Nyjer? It's not, and any plan built on that assumption is not really a serious plan.

Posted by: HHover | August 30, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget that Riggleman, with essentially a one-year contract no matter what Rizzo says (no extension yet in writing) is way down there on the totem pole, just above Willie Harris and Alberto Gonzalez.

Posted by: paulkp | August 31, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Maxwell, Bernadina & Morse, next year's starting outfield

Posted by: DCsportsnut | August 31, 2010 5:56 AM | Report abuse

I didn't want to think it was true (for either guy really), but I finally must concede that Milledge for Morgan was trading head cases. Make that air-head cases. Make that arrogant air-head cases. As Mike Singletary once said, can't win with 'em.

Posted by: evanescent_panoply | August 31, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

Morgan's a jerk!!! If the Nats have anybody in the minors ready to come up or if they want to put Bernadina in Center and steroid user-Morse in Right they should do it. Dump the bum.

Posted by: Dog-1 | August 31, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

"steroid user-Morse"? Do you have definite proof of this?

Moonball Morgan just doesn't get it. Is anybody else on this team doing the bone headed stuff he is doing?
He is pretty arrogant.

Posted by: M20832 | August 31, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

What a shame. Morgan has some raw athletic talent, but he doesn't have the emotional maturity to succeed in the majors.

Posted by: SmittyATL | August 31, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Without question, it was a totally bush league play by NM at the plate. And on top of that, he won't own up to it.

Posted by: shanks1 | August 31, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Morgan has no baseball sense. Terrible on the bases, despite his blazing speed. No clue, whatsover, in the field, regularly throws the ball to the wrong place. Eventually, looking at the tools gets old and you have to look at the sum of them. Kind of like Gary Matthews, Jr. in that repect, with the same type of all star mentality, while getting picked off.

Posted by: Gooddogs | August 31, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Let's speak in terms Nyjer can understand. The ball in the stands was a game misconduct, and the play at the plate was two minutes for boarding. The next move should be demotion to the ECHL.

[guys he doesn't know what he's doing out there. they need to save him from himself. He doesn't sniff the lineup of any of the other 29 teams in the league.]

Posted by: nfb987 | August 31, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Morse was suspended in 2005 after testing positive for steroids.
Bernadina in CF next year. Count on it. RF will interesting but don't think they will count on Morse as the starter.

Posted by: smirkman | August 31, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

The one thing Morgan is right about is that the manager shouldn't have thrown his player under the bus like that. Tony La Russa said that Drew Storen didn't belong in the majors and I didn't hear anyone (Riggleman) stick up for the young man. Right or wrong you have stick up for your players in public.....

Posted by: punchdaclock | August 31, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

The guy is made for the name: bonehead. His IQ is less than his jersey number.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | August 31, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Morse was suspended in 2005 after testing positive for steroids.

Ok. but that was five years ago. Anything lately?

Posted by: M20832 | August 31, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I want to know why Morgan's benching was reported in the St. Louis
Dispatch on Sunday, but not one word of it in the Post sports section.. What 's up with that?

Posted by: nb888 | August 31, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

On the hit to the catcher. Morgan is first a hockey player. Emough said.

Posted by: boyn4884 | August 31, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

@shepdave2003 - good comment - we were right above ya in 416, and I remember thinking why did he try to go after the catcher? Definitely had the same view you did - Anderson was in front of the plate, frankly hanging out watching the play. Loved Nyjer last year, can't understand what's happened to him this year. I think he's made one mistake too many and might be on the Dibble Express out of town...

Posted by: Section416akatheAlps | August 31, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Morgan needs to stop doing interviews! he just comes off as a COMPLETE FOOL!

He has no clue how the game of baseball is played.

The nuances of baseball escape this guy and he doesn't have the aptitude to grasp the game.


Posted by: whatyoutalkinboutman | August 31, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Maybe, I guess, from how he hit thought it was, I guess he perceived it as some nasty play with the intentions of trying to hurt somebody before coming to me and asking me about the situation, which was very unacceptable.
The reason Riggleman didn't go to Nyjer is because he probably knew that he was going to deny running into the catcher on purpose. It was a bush league play and I wish it was Matt Weiters he would've did that too, because Weiters would have picked up Nyjer and body slammed him into home plate.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | August 31, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

He sort of reminds me of Dibble. For a while the stream of stuff coming out of his mouth is entertaining, but then he says too much and it's not.

Posted by: markfromark | August 31, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Nyjer has all the physical tools to be a special player, but his mind for the game does not exist. Why do you think we traded a head case for him? We traded our talented but bullheaded player for the Pirates talented but bullheaded player. Yet when he shows his lack of baseball finesse we act surprised. It's not like he's a young guy either, he just either doesn't listen to coaching or is too thick headed to institute the lessons he's learned. Either way you can't have him in the center of your outfield on a young building team.

Posted by: damjammer | August 31, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

ok, now you have your scapegoat. Go roast it

Posted by: golo1 | August 31, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

ok, now you have your scapegoat. Go roast it

Posted by: golo1 | August 31, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes Nyjer is a Head Case but he sure is the best center fielder they have had since they started in 2005. Maybe he will grow up. I would like to see him stick around for next season. But he would have to earn his way into the starting lineup.

Posted by: frediemac1 | August 31, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Got Ritalin?

Posted by: McLobo | August 31, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

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