(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Last year, Nyjer Morgan was an up and coming guy for the Nationals, despite the fact that he was closer to 30 years old than to 20. He hit .351 with the Nationals in 2009, and earned his spot as the solid lead off guy for 2010.
Well, things changed. Nyjer is hitting just .257 now, with a scant .317 OBP. His speed is still undeniable, but he has been caught stealing more than 30% of the time. As a result of an evolving lineup, an improving Roger Bernadina, and a declining confidence in Morgan, Jim Riggleman has had the man who calls himself T. Plush batting 8th. Ouch.
Nyjer is unhappy about this. And he's taken his frustration out on two catchers in the last 2 series. First was St. Louis Cardinals reserve catcher Bryan Anderson. He plowed into Anderson, who didn't even have the ball, and was not in the base path. He was rightly benched the next game. Lesson learned, right? Wrong.
On Tuesday, Nyjer was running home in the top of the 10th inning, a game hopelessly tied at zero. Sending Nyjer here was the right move, without a doubt. But again, Marlins catcher Brett Hayes was catching the ball on the first base side, not blocking the plate. Instead of Nyjer sliding in on the opposite side of the plate and attempting to touch with his hand, he once again bowled through a catcher. Nyjer was out. Hayes was hurt.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports that Hayes will miss time as he has limited mobility in his shoulder after the collision. The Marlins will have Hayes undergo an MRI Wednesday. In response to Morgan's hit, Hayes said "Obviously, his track record doesn't help himself. Somebody who does that is looking to hurt somebody. But, you know, it's baseball."
Nyjer will have to make his case to MLB on September 7th as he appeals a suspension for throwing a ball into the stands, presumably at a fan in Philly. After the collision on Tuesday, Morgan was was clearly jawing with fans, saying some inappropriate things. It was not good natured. Considering that, the baseball throwing in Philly, the two collisions at home plate, his clear disdain for Riggleman batting him 8th, and a slew of other factors, including his temper tantrum earlier this year against the Orioles, he is in a world of hurt.
The full suspension very well may be upheld now, and the Nationals have a serious decision to make with active 40-man rosters beginning today. Does Nyjer get a shot again in center as a regular starter, or do you give him spot starts to give some minor leaguers a chance? The next few weeks will be very interesting.