Center fielder Nyjer Morgan is currently watching the game between the Phillies and Nationals with Jake Kunkel, the man who accused Morgan of throwing the baseball at him at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 21. Kunkel went to the game as Morgan’s guest.
Morgan received an seven-game suspension by the league office, but after an appeal, was cleared of any wrong doing. Morgan maintained that he was trying to give a ball to a fan, but the ball went over the fan’s head and hit Kunkel
Morgan is currently serving an eight-game suspension for 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 and Kunkel are watching the game behind the Nationals dugout. Before the game, Kunkel was able to meet manager Jim Riggleman, who gave Kunkel and three of his friends a tour of the Nationals clubhouse. Kunkel then went in Riggleman’s office and talked baseball for several minutes.
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.”
Two nights ago, I asked my Twitter followers this question: Do you think the Nationals should sign first baseman Adam Dunn to an extension? Yes or No. Why? Most of the followers want Dunn back for 2011 and beyond. Here is what the followers had to say.
@Sultan_of_Stat: Yes. Ryan Zimmerman obviously wants him to stay and we need to keep our franchise player happy within reason. Dunn is definitely within reason.
@jcj5y: I’ll take the guaranteed 35 HRs and shoddy defense over an unknown free agent who might hit .220 with 15 HRs and great D.
@MrJMadIV: Dunn should have been extended the day after the trade deadline passed.
@reifiss: Absolutely. Nats should sign with Dunn. Please! Just please.
@borzoi06: Yes. Yes. and YES. Nats should sign Adam Dunn because he’s good and a good fit for the team. Who could replace him?
@juliewright757: Yes, because he hits 40 home runs. A first baseman like Dunn don’t grow on trees!
@khillock: At the beginning of the season, I said no. But, since they didn’t trade him, not signing him would be a complete waste.
@tbridge: Yes. If he’ll take a three year deal.
@jypaulos: YES! He’s in top 10 in several offensive categories. He’s a leader in the clubhouse. He is third among NL first basemen in errors, but it’s his first full year at the position. Look at the slack they’re cutting Ian Desmond in his first year in the big leagues and he leads all of baseball in errors. It is a complete no brainer to resign Dunn. If Mike Rizzo does not re-sign him, I’m not coming to Nats games next year at all. I love the team, but I got to hit Rizzo in his pocket book.
@AlanClaffie: Sign him! Love having a 30-plus homer slugger on the team, and he seems to have a great attitude to boot. Hope he can stick around.
@jealle78:Yes, sign him! He’s a guaranteed 40 bombs, 100 RBI guy. So many player are risky, but he’s a guaranteed good ballplayer.
@DCyetti: I say do it, but be careful with three-years plus. Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore will come up. I think Morse can fill in at first base if Dunn leaves and the Nationals could go for an outfielder.
@XSP4: Yes! That production doesn’t grow on trees and it helps Zim a great deal.
@HendoDC: Yes. His bat pop produces runs and his height and reach make him a useful 1B.
@TheNatsBlog: Yes, if they can get him for less than four years. No, if not. The Nats need to think about the future beyond 2011.
@tylerradecki: Yes. No other replacement will come close to his production, and the team loves him and he wants to stay in DC.
@KimCinAZ: They should try to re-sign Dunn, but nothing generous. Depth chart is good/fluid — almost too fluid – with better defensive first basemen. Without his bat (homers and strikeouts) others will rise to the occasion and make fewer errors. My two cents.
@IBALLZACH: Obviously his production over the course of his career is simply amazing. Letting him go would be a monumental mistake.
@bart__davis: Yes. Good power hitter. Better defensively this year at first. Consistently hits around 40 homers.
@SodaPop6548: He isn’t perfect, but is a big part of our offense and a fan favorite. The fans want Dunn, so keep him around!
@swampudlian: Dunn extension: Yes, unless he asks for crazy money. Not re-signing him means they’re punting the 2011 season.
@AtomicOvermind: Barely tolerable defense, excellent bat, great for morale and makes Zimmerman better. Sign him, Rizzo!
@BrandonAKrueger: You may hate him, but he is by far a better option than what 25-30 other teams have.
@Bill_TDS: No. Dunn is a born DH. No NL team should be willing to outbid AL teams for him.
@ilovethenats: I love Dunn!!! The man has what this team needs, a lot of heart and hits!
@JoshsThoughts: Save the money and wait a couple years when it’ll actually time to do something. Nationals won’t be in the position to win next year. Basically, just don’t overspend on anyone until Strasburg and Harper arrive.
@DroppingTheBall: Who replaces his production although his defense is not good? Would hate watching the lineup trying to score without him.
@CapitolAvenue: No because the money would be better spent on player development.
@UnkleWheez: Yes, they should re-sign him. 1. Too hard to replace his impact in lineup. 2. Fits in the locker room 3. Cost too much for someone else.
Last week, I asked my Twitter followers this question: Nats analyst Ray Knight is doing an outstanding job as Bob Carpenter partner on MASN. How do you think Knight is doing? Why? The results were mixed. Here is what the followers had to say.
@thebrowncoat: He is better than Rob Dibble. He doesn’t make me want to throw something through my TV screen at least twice an inning.
@rocket1124: A breath of fresh air. Smells like competence and real baseball insight.
@AlanClaffie: Knight can’t hold a candle to Dibble. I miss Rob every time a game starts and he’s not part of the broadcast team.
@danr: Ray Knight’s OK, but Dibble knew his pitching stuff. Learned a lot from him. His unpredictability kept my attention.
@markbachrach: Nats broadcasts would be better if dissent was tolerated. Nats aren’t perfect. Why force broadcasters to pretend? I liked Rob.
@thom202: Paired with Bob Carpenter, they are the dull duo.
@pbsenerchia: I love Knight — knowledgeable, low-key, interesting and informative.
@szul: I liked Knight on the postgame show, so I wouldn’t mind seeing him stay on as the color guy permanently.
@emmi1966: I like his baseball knowledge; ability to get worked up a little; positive attitude; southern friendliness. Works well with Bob.
@tylerradecki: His only issues are with speech, knowledge is never a problem with Ray. Which is why he’s great for studio work.
@SodaPop6548: I think he’s doing a good job. Wouldn’t mind him sticking around.
@SeanMMcNally: Improvement over the previous color guy. Would like to see MASN look at other options for both slots next year, though. Ken Singleton would be an inspired get for MASN next year. Total pro, can do both play-by-play and color. He has local roots — ex-Expo.
@getxstoked: I miss Don Sutton, personally
@Swishy7: Bring back Dibble
@jypaulos: Ray Knight? My Vote-thumbs down. Neither Ray nor Bob have any opinions of their own. If they keep the Ray and Bob show next year, I’m going to the radio.
@joemktg: Ray offers tremendous technique and strategic insight, while butchering the English language and telestrator. Very entertaining.
@MikeHill_: Ray Knight is a World Series MVP. He signed my cap, He’s the man!
@nat_meg: Ray is an excellent analyst who knows his stuff, but he needs to work on his speaking skills.
@RegularRon: He bores me. And I miss Dibble.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played with the Nationals since late 2005 and watched the team finish in sixth place every year except for 2007.
While he doesn’t like to lose, Zimmerman said he understands that the Nationals are trying to build a team through the farm system.
“Nobody like losing, but it’s a process here,” Zimmerman said. “We have a young team. It’s hard to compete day in and day out with teams that have veteran guys. We are learning here. Do I think we have enough to win? Of course.
“A lot of these guys are learning to play every day in the big leagues. It’s not an easy place to learn. It’s a hard thing to learn how to be consistent and be successful every day. It’s a fun team to be on because I get to watch it happen like I had to go through. We are in that process now. Nobody likes to lose.”
The Nationals are one of the worst defensive teams in baseball this season, but they made two sparkling gems during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Marlins.
In the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, two outs and Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis on the mound, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison hit a shot up the middle that looked like a base hit. But second baseman Danny Espinosa made a great diving play and threw out Morrison for the final out of the inning.
“That was great play,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “The range to get it and then the arm to finish it off was tremendous. I don’t know what more you could do there.”
A natural shortstop, Espinosa sounded like a person who doesn’t need to make adjustments at second base. Espinosa didn’t start playing the position until after the All-Star break.
“I’m trying to feel more comfortable everyday over there to make my routine plays. It makes me feel better,” Espinosa said.
In the sixth inning, the Nationals were able to turn a great double play. With no outs and a runner on first, Dan Uggla hit what looked like a routine groundball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who booted the ball, but manage to throw out Uggla at first base.
At the same time, Hanley Ramirez didn’t stop at second and decided to go to third. Luckily for the Nationals, shortstop Ian Desmond was covering third as first baseman Adam Dunn threw out Ramirez for the double play.
“I saw that he didn’t stop at second,” Desmond said about Ramirez. “I just knew to run to third. That’s the way they teach you to do it. I ran to third, hoping that Dunn was going to throw it and he did.”
Former Major Leaguer Devon White told MLB.com that he was dismissed as the Nationals’ outfield and baserunning coordinator. He was given the news Thursday by farm director Doug Harris. No reason was given as to why White is no longer working for the Nationals.
White didn’t express any bitterness toward the organization and hopes to work in baseball in the near future. Besides working in the Minor Leagues, White sometimes worked on the Major League side, helping outfielders such as Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes.
After the 2008 season, Washington offered White the first-base coaching job, but he turned it down.
On Monday, I asked my Twitter followers the following question: Should Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond be considered a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2010? Yes or No. Why?
Seventeen followers said no because Desmond has made 31 errors this season, while 13 others believe he should considered a Rookie of the Year candidate. Here is what the followers had to say.
@CDublin: No, only because the National League is so stacked with rookies this year. Plus, Desmond has way too many errors.
@Sultan_of_Stat: Yes to being considered, he’s had a great rookie season. His defensive growing pains will keep him from winning though.
@bart__davis: He will get well deserved votes, but too many errors. Great young player.
@seanhoganVT: No. Desmond is having a decent year, but he’s nowhere near the level of Buster Posey or Jason Heyward.
@UnkleWheez: Yes. His batting average is sixth best among NL shortstops and he plays good defense. The errors hurt but they are “good” errors.
@thebrowncoat: No. Defense, Defense, Defense hasn’t been good enough.
@junebugskippin: He should be considered but will ultimately lose to Cubs SS Starlin Castro
@BYSchwartz: Danny Espinosa should be a candidate :D
@SodaPop6548: Heck yes! Ian Desmond has been great at the plate and his D has been getting a lot better. Desi is going to be an All Star!
@kalamazooapples: Desmond a candidate? Maybe, but I wouldn’t vote for him over Starlin Castro of the Cubs. And, I truly don’t like the Cubs.
@tbridge: With 31 E’s, so far, I’d say no. Plus batting numbers.
@Evolution33: No. Any other year and yes, but this has been beyond an excellent year for rookies.
@R1cketyCr1cket: A candidate? Sure, assuming you need one from every team like the All Star game. Should he win? Of course not.
@jcj5y: If he finishes strong, I’d vote him fourth or fifth. Posey should win.
@gregyoung3: Simply for the reason that he’s leading the league in errors and there are much better candidates out there.
@bobbyoler: No. Thirty-one errors, don’t care how much potential you have, that’s egregious. Danny Espinosa may be in the running next year though.
@LPags03: How many errors does he have? Definitely not rookie candidate to me. I think he’ll have a solid career, but first season has been rocky.
@misschatter: I agree with @LPags03 — too many errors.
@mikekruger: Considered? Sure. Win? No way. Too many errors.
@rickyh17: Yes. His errors are hard to ignore but his many good defensive plays and offensive impact, especially of late, is also hard to ignore.
@HendoDC: No. He’ll be a good defender some year, but this year isn’t the case. Heyward would be my first choice with Posey second.
@AlanClaffie: Desmond needs way better defense to earn any semi-serious accolades, so no ROTY vote from me.
@Jeffrey_Bergin: Absolutely. His production with RISP and the fact he has played a demanding position all season. He won’t win, but top 5.
@md_schmidt: Yes. Mainly based on results at plate and on base paths. Fielding struggles will keep him from winning ROY, however.
@BuryMeInEngland: Insane idea. He has 31 errors so maybe he can get “most individual errors in a year” award.
@jtshiffman: No. If it was only based on hitting than yes, but he has made too many fielding errors.
@CapitolBaseball: No for Desmond. Despite great second half, just look at the errors. Total disqualifier.
@ind_sports_cubs: Not at all. Have you heard of Starlin Castro?
@szul: Yes. His offensive numbers match up well with any contender. His defense will obviously hurt his contention though.
@MikeHill: YES! He’s an Iron Man.
Triple A Syracuse manager Trent Jewett will join the Nationals on Tuesday as an extra coach. The Nationals are rewarding Jewett for guiding the Chiefs to a 75-66 record.
Syracuse was eliminated from playoff contention with an 8-2 loss to the Rochester Red Wings on Saturday night.
Jewett is best known for being a managerial candidate after the Nationals dismissed Frank Robinson as their skipper in 2006. The job eventually went to Manny Acta.
Nationals catcher Jesus Flores told MLB.com on Friday night that he will not play a Major League Game in 2010, but will play in the Instructional League this fall.
The news means that Flores has missed almost two full Major League seasons because of right shoulder problems.
“It’s not a secret that I had shoulder surgery, which is hard to recover from,” Flores said via telephone. “But I’m still ahead of schedule. This type of surgery takes 12 to 16 months, so it’s only a year after surgery.”
Flores hurt the shoulder on May 9, 2009, when he was hit by a foul tip off the bat of D-backs outfielder Chris Young in Phoenix.
Flores was in pain for several minutes, but remained in the game before being taken out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Flores was activated from the disabled list Sept. 4 and made two pinch-hitting appearances.
However, he was sent to Alabama after complaining of shoulder soreness and ended up having right labrum surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.
The good news is that Flores is taking hitting practice and throwing to the bases without any problems.
“I’m feeling good,” Flores said.”The reason I didn’t play in the big leagues [in September] is because I didn’t … have time to get into [game] shape. I’m throwing to the bases and I’m feeling great. The shoulder is really doing well.”
Flores is not sure if he will play Winter Ball, but he plans to be an All-Star catcher for the Nationals in 2011.
“I feel stronger and my goal right now is to get in shape, feel 100 percent and get ready for next season,” he said.