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Reaction and fallout from Nyjer Morgan's suspension

Let's try to sort this out, point by point:

-Nyjer Morgan will appeal the eight-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for his recent actions, and his hearing will come Sept. 10, for both this suspension and the seven-game suspensions. Morgan is in the lineup tonight, playing center field and leading off.

-Left-handed reliever Doug Slaten will appeal his three game suspension and be available to pitch tonight. No appeal hearing has been set.

-Third base coach Pat Listach's suspensions has been reduced from three games to two. He will begin serving Sunday. Hitting coach Rick Eckstein will serve as third base coach Sunday and Monday.

-Manager Jim Riggleman will begin serving his two-game suspension tonight. Bench coach John McLaren will manage tonight and tomorrow. "John McLaren and the other coaches, they all know my feelings on how the game is run and how our team operates," Riggleman said. "I think we'll do it the same way."

-Morgan, after his eventful week, grabbed the headlines and the most games. Morgan did not want to comment publicly because he is appealing the suspension, though he thought the penalty was harsh and that he felt he hadn't done anything wrong. While the Nationals do not condone the gestures he made to the crowd or interactions he had with fans, they supported him otherwise.

"Some of the things that he did were disconcerting to me," General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "A lot if it snowballed after that. Most of the incidents I really have little or no problem with at all. They were pure baseball things. But there were a few situations that were unfortunate mistakes by a young, aggressive player who should know better.

"He's never had a problem off the field, outside the white lines. Between the white lines, there's been some issues. But he's been a model citizen off the field, in the clubhouse and in the community. Let's not forget that."

Rizzo also affirmed his commitment to Morgan as a player. Morgan's offensive numbers have suffered this season, but Rizzo believes bad luck on balls put in play accounts for much of that. Morgan's batting average on balls in play this year is .308, down from his .357 career average. Morgan is batting .257 with a .318 on-base percentage. With a .357 BABIP, he'd be at .297 and .344

"He's going to be a guy we're going to depend on to play stellar center field for us and hit at the top of the order," Rizzo said. "When we get good enough to compete for championships, he'll have proved himself in that role or he'll have an opportunity to play himself out of it. Right now, that's the way I view him. It's really difficult to go get premier defensive center fielders that have potential to hit at the top of the order and have the potential to steal 50 or 60 bases. And we have that. It's certainly to early in his career - being a [.286] career hitter and a [.345] career on-base percentage - to give up on him."

-The brawl left the Nationals clubhouse more unified than at any point this season. During and after Wednesday's game, teammates rallied around Morgan. Veterans embraced him and told him, in so many words, "We've got your back." Morgan hugged Doug Slaten after Slaten drilled Gaby Sanchez with a pitch and was subsequently ejected.

The Nationals also respected Listach's involvement in the fight. Listach dove on and smothered Chris Volstad, who had plunked Morgan earlier and threw a pitch behind him to start the fracas. Listach did not throw and punches.

"I totally support what happened with Pat," Riggleman said. "Pat was just trying to stop what was going. He's protecting Nyjer, but he's also not being aggressive. He's just holding somebody down so no more punches could be thrown that way."

"Whatever money he lost with the suspension," one team source said, "he made up five times in respect from the players."

-Riggleman expected the suspensions, just not the severity of them.

"I'm a little surprised," Riggleman said. "I thought the suspensions were a little bit heavy. When umpires give a warning to the benches and then a pitcher hits somebody and they throw the pitcher out and the manager out, it is what it is. It's automatic. The additional time and the additional money on some players, it's a little bit heavy, I think. I think it's baseball saying, 'We're not going to put up with this. We're going to not have bench-clearing brawls.' As word goes around how heavy some of the fines were, that will stop it.' "

-Riggleman said he didn't hesitate to put Morgan in the lineup tonight.

"No, no," Riggleman said. "You know, I think Nyjer, in a perfect world, would have known the ball was going to be high at home plate, would have slid. He didn't know that. He decided to go in like he did. It was an incident that took place and it's over. We had an off day yesterday, we're playing a different team. There's no negative history that there's any reason to keep him out of the ball game. Unfortunately, unless Nyjer's suspension is reduced quite a bit, there's going to be a lot of days he's not in there in the near future."

-The league's biggest problem with Morgan's actions was how he left the field Wednesday and his interaction with fans Tuesday night. The Nationals have addressed the issue with Morgan, and he understands the Nationals will no longer tolerate any interactions with fans. Riggleman called the rest of Morgan's incidents "very coincidental that these things have happened independent of each other."

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 3, 2010; 7:02 PM ET
 
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Comments

Total embarrassment.

Posted by: swanni | September 3, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

couldn't agree more. that the management of this team thinks nyjer's behavior is acceptable truly baffles and embarrasses me. yeah, let's show our solidarity with him, and put him back at the leadoff spot. makes a ton of sense - in some bizarro world.

Posted by: DCguy7 | September 3, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Johnny Cueto was suspended for fewer games than Nyjer Morgan, and Nyjer Morgan didn't kick anyone. And I'm pretty sure nobody suffered a concussion in the Nats/Marlin dustup.
That seems a little inconsistent to me.

Posted by: DKB755 | September 3, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Johnny Cueto was suspended for fewer games than Nyjer Morgan, and Nyjer Morgan didn't kick anyone. And I'm pretty sure nobody suffered a concussion in the Nats/Marlin dustup.
That seems a little inconsistent to me.

Posted by: DKB755 | September 3, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

This is what TEAMS do people ......and for once they are showing they are a TEAM ........and that I am all for

Posted by: CBinDC | September 3, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

This is what TEAMS do people ......and for once they are showing they are a TEAM ........and that I am all for

Posted by: CBinDC | September 3, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

AMEN -- good thing the team is sticking closer together than some of the fans on this board.

Posted by: cdstej | September 3, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I am neither a Fish nor a Nats' fan, but I think all the suspensions were too light - but especially Volstad's, which just means a couple days' extra rest for him at a time in the season when that's a favor to him. Personally, I would suspend Morgan, Volstad and Sánchez for the rest of the season.

Posted by: amethyst2 | September 3, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the worst is his interaction with the fans. The play at home with the Cardinals was way wrong, but Riggleman apologized to the Cardinals and Nyjer needs to shut up about whether he did anything wrong.

The play with the Marlins catcher was unfortunate but not intentional, so I don't think Nyjer needs to apologize for it, but did he say he regretted the guy was hurt?

The steals --- that was no reason at all for the Marlins to retaliate. Mike and Mike in the morning can retract their nonsense about that. Plain and simple.

The pitch behind his back? Take that in context. Weren't the Marlins plunking our batters more than once? Where were the umpires? They weren't in control of the game.

The shouting at the fans and the beating his chest? I remember that most people wanted to plunk Brandon Phillips of the Reds when he beat his chest on a play at home. It's just not done in baseball. No endzone spiking ceremonies and wrestling type histrionics in baseball, period.

So all in all it looks like the Marlins got just about as many suspension days as we did, but you would never know it if you were to listen to the radio or hear all the bogus stuff about Nyjer maybe undergoing 'roid rage.

Throwing at a fan is by far the worst thing he has done, and I cannot believe the Phillies fan who tried to explain that away. There's no way the Phillies ushers would have reported it to MLB and said they were shocked if it had not been much uglier than that supposed Phillies fan bystander made it out to be.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 3, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Well we've learned one thing about Rizzo --he can't admit he's made a mistake. Look for April and May announced crowds in the high 7s, low 8s in 2011.

Posted by: grclarkdc1 | September 3, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I am neither a Fish nor a Nats' fan, but I think all the suspensions were too light - but especially Volstad's, which just means a couple days' extra rest for him at a time in the season when that's a favor to him. Personally, I would suspend Morgan, Volstad and Sánchez for the rest of the season.

Posted by: amethyst2 | September 3, 2010 8:37 PM

You're just reacting to the hysteria. This was just another dumb brawl in baseball. I'm not condoning what Nyjer did, but this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. If anything, MLB loved what happened because it helped baseball trump preseason football on Sportscenter

Posted by: Kev29 | September 3, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

When Morgan was in Milwaukee he was nothing less than a class act. He made sure to sign autographs for all the kids behind the dugout. He even gave my son a baseball even though my 3 year old was not asking for one. I like the way he plays, and I wish him nothing but the best.

Posted by: milwaukeeivan | September 3, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Of course it takes a hockey player to make me pay attention to baseball...8 games is ridiculous, he got thrown at twice!!! 2 other guys were hit, and he charges the mound and gets 8 games(wouldnt happen to a yankee)...joke...I know Nyjer has had some issues in the last week but if you are suspending based on that incident, give me a break...the reason hockey allows fighting is because usually they do it like men, one on one, if your the third man in you get penalized more...thats what makes these baseball fights so stupid...if you're six foot eight and you need help fighting someone five foot seven, well I guess you chose the right sport...all in all go NATS, go NYJER, keep on swinging buddy!!!

Posted by: DCCapsfan19 | September 4, 2010 2:40 AM | Report abuse

First of all, if someone INTENTIONALLY hits you, you get to steal as many freakin' bases as you want. I don't care the score. Second, they tried to hit him TWICE!!! He doesn't rush the mound, I question his manhood. As for the gestures, its a fight. Emotions are pretty high, and gestures never hurt a sole. The Cardinals hit, I don't condone, and I wish he had slid against the Marlins, that wasn't bright and may have cost us the game. As a rule, you should be able to throw as many baseballs at Phillies fans as you want. 99% chance of hitting someone who deserves it.

Posted by: Joe_O | September 4, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

>Well we've learned one thing about Rizzo --he can't admit he's made a mistake. Look for April and May announced crowds in the high 7s, low 8s in 2011.

Posted by: grclarkdc1

That's his whole m.o. He never admits to anything - every player he picks up is a great get - like the other day they were talking about how Rizzo was watching Capps save a game for Minnesota, and said that even though he liked Capps, he had to get Ramos - even though the guy is probably going to hit .230. He only hit .240 in AAA. Everybody's a linchpin, whether they're coming up through the organization or they get them from somewhere else. Espinosa had a lower OPS than Desmond did in his last year at AAA. What is refreshing - to see a new body out there isn't necessarily going to project to stardom the way Rizzo pimps it. Espinsoa will cool off once they pound his weaknesses. Now he's probably going to have egg on his face when Hernandez turns out to be the same half-season pitcher he's been for the last 5 years. You can't go to the playoffs with players like that. They have guys who will have to be shut down in August next year including Zimmermann.

Posted by: Brue | September 4, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Gosh. Now Rizzo is using words like "bad luck", to go with Riggleman's season-long references to "tough breaks". It seems to me like the One thing that all Nats have in common is DENIAL. That does not bode well for the future. Does anyone on this team accept responsibility for anything???

Posted by: tradeczar | September 4, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

>>Well we've learned one thing about Rizzo --he can't admit he's made a mistake.
Posted by: grclarkdc1

>>Gosh. Now Rizzo is using words like "bad luck", to go with Riggleman's season-long references to "tough breaks". It seems to me like the One thing that all Nats have in common is DENIAL. That does not bode well for the future. Does anyone on this team accept responsibility for anything???
Posted by: tradeczar

Nails (Unfortunately)!!!


Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 4, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I can judge by some of the comments on this blog why opposing teams fans come into National's Park and out cheer us and are allowed to get away with racists comments toward our players within earshot of family's with small children in tow. I commend Mike Rizzo for pointing out the facts concerning Nyjer, outside the white lines he has been a model citizen, what is wrong with some of you? do you not know the game? Nyjer gets thrown at TWICE!!! and he's supposed to take it like a man? I DON'T THINK SO!! Volstad hit two other players before we even retaliated. That's the whole problem with this franchise we're comfortable with a culture of losing and the we'll get em tommorow attitude that has us headed toward another 100 loss season. The starting pitchers allow opposing batters to dig in, WHY? because they know we're not going to back them off the plate, as much as I despise Philly and their fans opposing teams know they're in Citizen's Bank Ballpark because their fans let them know it by cheering as loud as any fan base in MLB, at Nat's Park we're too laid back, we might get a little too sweaty in the DC humidity to root for the home team, WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! this is baseball!! get some loyalty toward your team and it's players and for the love of Jackie Robinson support the home team!!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 4, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Personally I think that the worst behavior was on the part of Gaby Sanchez, who was third-man-in, on the side of a player a foot taller and 140 lbs. heavier than his opponent, and who blindsided and closthelined Nyjer Morgan in a manner specifically and deliberately intended to cause severe, perhaps career-ending, injury to his cervical vertebrae.

That is absolutely inexcusable. What Morgan did was part of baseball and has been since the earliest days. Morgan cannot reasonably be expected just to stand there and let opposing pitchers use him for target practice. What Doug Slaten did was expected by everyone in the world and was relatively mild -- to achieve proper reciprocity, Gaby Sanchez deserved a Strasburg-quality fastball beanball, not the off-speed curveball to his belt that Slaten delivered.

MLB upper echelons have been picking on our Nats all year long. That's gotta stop.

But when Florida comes to Washington next week, I would suggest that they leave Gaby Sanchez on the bench. I would definitely accept another error from Desmond if his throw could hit Sanchez in the face in the Marlins' dugout, hard enough to end his season. That's what that guy deserves.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | September 4, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

FergusonFoont; Thanks for sticking up for Nyjer and the Nats i wish that some of these so called fans would learn the game and get on board with what really happened in Florida and you're right this franchise has been the red headed step child of MLB ever since they left Montreal it's about time we stood up for ourselves.The Lerner's should fire off a letter to Bob Watson questioning the suspension's and any and all ramifications concerning "the brawl" just don't sit there and take it.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Have to agree with FergusonFoont. Sanchez is due another ball or two for that move. This is a case where it would be nice to have Dunn mow the guy down coming down the first base line. Given Dunn's love of football I'm sure Sanchez would feel some pain.

In the case of Hayes Morgan made a mistake by not sliding because it cost a score and the game. But it was "dirty" per se'. What Sanchez did clearly was and that clearly set Listach off.
Nyjer does need to learn to be both smart and aggressive at the same time as he did last year before his injury.

Morgan's behavior was okay perhaps it lit a fire under the team ... or at least that was my hope. Except for his interaction with the crowd. And the other suspension from Philly is a bunch of hooey so Nyjer is clearly frustrated. A kid asked for the ball and he threw up to him and several Philly fans who tried to catch it. Unfortunately, it hit a fan who busy yacking and not paying attention. (That's where Dibble would have been correct to make that observation.) A Philly fan wrote it in as he witnessed the whole thing.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I was happy to see our guys show some emotion. Nyjer did what he needed to do. Eight games is way too many.
I guess many would lable me a homer. I support my team no matter how they are doing..too many try to act like reporters here, or worse, Phillies fans.

Posted by: 22819 | September 4, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what Nyjer Morgan Riggleman and Rizzo are talking about but the Nyjer Morgan that I've seen this season needs to go. He's just not a very good player.

PLAIN And SIMPLE!

Posted by: whatyoutalkinboutman | September 4, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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