Morgan suspended for eight games [updated]

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan was suspended for eight games and fined $15,000 by the league office. The suspension will start Friday and he is expected to return to action on Sept. 25 against the Braves at Nationals Park.

Morgan will remain with the team in Philadelphia. He will practice with the Nationals, but will watch the games in the stands. Morgan will miss the three-game series against the Phillies, four games against the Astros and one against the Braves in Nationals Park.

“I will be with the team and roll on. I will show support,” Morgan said. “I will take batting practice and then watch the game.”

Morgan was appealing two suspensions, totaling 15 games, for hitting a fan with a ball at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, trying to knock down Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson — even though Anderson didn’t have possession of the ball — using inappropriate language toward fans at Sun Life Stadium and having a physical altercation with Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad.

Morgan felt the fine was steep, but said he respects the league office’s decision. He said he was cleared of any wrongdoing in Philadelphia.

“I don’t think the fine should have been that much, but I still respect MLB’s decision,” Morgan said. “Now I can move on and finish the season on a positive note.”

On Sept. 1, Morgan charged the mound in the sixth inning and threw a punch at Volstad, who had thrown a pitch behind the left-handed hitter. Two innings earlier, Volstad hit Morgan in the lower back. Morgan went on to steal two bases in the inning, even though Washington was trailing by 11 runs. The Nationals ended up losing the game, 16-10.

The Marlins had a problem with Morgan from the previous day, when he barreled into catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.

On Friday, Morgan spoke to Bob Watson, Major League Baseball’s vice president of rules and on-field operations, for 4 1/2 hours at Nationals Park about what occurred at Citizens Bank Park and against the Marlins and Cardinals. Morgan was told not to speak to the media until a decision was reached by the league office.

Morgan is having the worst season of his career, hitting .258 with 23 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. After hitting .351 with Washington from the leadoff spot last year, Morgan was expected to be a catalyst this season. But he was so inconsistent that manager Jim Riggleman had to bat him near the bottom of the order, which upset the center fielder at times.

In retrospect, Morgan realizes he is having a season he would like to forget.

“I really let the fans down because they didn’t see the real T. Plush [Morgan’s nickname] this year,” he said. “I apologize to the fans for not coming through on a consistent basis.”


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