Pirates Notebook: Morgan still stirring things up

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What a week and a half Washington's Nyjer Morgan is having.

In the past 10 days, the popular former Pirates outfielder:

• Received a total of 15 games in suspensions, eight Friday for the beanball brawl Wednesday in Florida and seven more Aug. 25 from exchanges with fans in Philadelphia.

• Appealed the penalties, and Major League Baseball officials are scheduled to come to Washington, D.C., next Friday to hear him plead his cases.

• Dropped to No. 8 in the lineup, though he returned to leadoff Friday at PNC Park.

• Bowled over St. Louis catcher Bryan Anderson despite no throw home, which he missed in the process and cost the Nationals a run.

• Got benched the next day for what Washington manager Jim Riggleman termed "unprofessional" play.

• Separated the shoulder of Florida catcher Brett Hayes in another bowl-over at home plate.

• Stormed the mound once Florida's Chris Volstad threw behind him in retaliation of Morgan in his previous at-bat stealing two bases -- with his team trailing by 11 runs -- after Volstad plunked him. The subsequent bench-clearing brawl prompted baseball officials to suspend eight Nationals/Marlins for 33 games total.

"I plead the fifth," Morgan began Friday in the PNC Park visitor's clubhouse.

What, Morgan silent?

"If I played like this back in the '80s, nobody would have said anything," said Morgan, who gesticulated toward the Florida crowd upon his ejection Wednesday, a throwback to his hockey days. "I don't think I've done anything wrong other than play the game hard. That's how I got here, playing the game hard and with energy. I can't stop. I got the will to win, not the will to quit.

"I guess we're supposed to lay down in the fourth inning when we're down 11 runs. Just trying to show Nats Nation ... we're not quitting."

Morgan added that he understood baseball protocol, with the Marlins retaliating for the Hayes injury with the first plunking by Volstad, "but don't start throwing at me again."

"That's Nyjer," said his former sidekick and center-field replacement with the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen. "I can't speak on it, really. Nyjer's just a man of many, many ... just, of everything. He's not afraid to do anything. Anybody would like to have him on their team. He's bringing 100 percent. Every time he shows up, there's never a dull moment with him."

"He plays with a lot of passion and energy," Pirates manager John Russell added.

Riggleman served the first of his two-game suspension Friday. Coach John McLaren is interim manager.

Meek close; Clement back

All-Star reliever Evan Meek, struck on the right, throwing hand by a Ryan Braun line drive Sunday, returned to the mound Friday afternoon and could well rejoin the bullpen this weekend.

"Evan's doing very well. We'll just see how he goes," Russell said. "I can't really pinpoint a specific date. We're looking that he should be back pitching relatively soon."

Meanwhile, first baseman Jeff Clement was on his way back from Class AAA, where he left earlier this week for a rehab assignment for his left knee. In Indianapolis, Clement strained an oblique muscle -- something that could mean the end of his season. "We'll get him back here and let the doctors look at him," Russell said.

Buried treasure

John Bowker, batting seventh and in right field Friday, will play some first base but not start there for the Pirates in the final month, Russell said. They will "give him a look" as a pinch-hitter, outfielder and replacement first baseman, the manager said. "Let him play a bit here and there. We still got some guys we've got to juggle in the lineup."

• The Pirates unveiled a JLB path on the right sleeves of their home uniforms to commemorate late general manager Joe L. Brown.

• McCutchen on the Bill Mazeroski statue ceremony scheduled for Sunday: "Just talking to him now, he seems like the same, old humble guy. I'm sure he's going to say they didn't have to do it, because that's the kind of guy he is."



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