Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Nyjer Morgan close to returning to MLB with 'unspecified' team

Update (7:38 p.m.): According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, Nyjer Morgan will sign with the Cleveland Indians.

From earlier: The Phillies, on the hunt for outfield help, are still very much in the mix for a variety of uninteresting free agents.

Word spread across Twitter this afternoon that MLB-exiled Nyjer Morgan was returning from playing in Japan, where he hit .294/.361/.434 this past season, and close to signing with an "unspecified" MLB team. Morgan, however, is both an outfielder and left-handed, the very qualities the Phillies are said to be looking for in a bench player, so interest on their end would not be a total surprise.

The 33-year-old Morgan first got the majority of his attention in MLB as a Washington National, through a variety of high profile events in 2010:

  • Morgan threw his glove in disgust after thinking he'd knocked a fly ball over the fence for a home run. Not realizing that the ball had staye din the park, he allowed the Orioles' Adam Jones to score on an inside-the-park home run.
  • Morgan was suspended for seven days for throwing a ball at a Phillies fan. He appealed and was cleared.
  • Against the Marlins, Morgan separated a catcher's shoulder in a collision at the plate, then charged the mound after being thrown at. He was eventually clotheslined by Gaby Sanchez.
  • This was after Morgan had collided with a Cardinals catcher, who was not holding the ball or near the plate.
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  • Upon joining the Brewers, Morgan got even more attention as his alter ego, "Tony Plush." This begs the question: How many players with alternate personalities (Papelbon's "Cinco Ocho" being the other) does this team really need?

    Here he is barking after striking out for some reason.

    His career MLB numbers are .280/.341/.364, with his last three seasons featuring some statistical zig zagging that would make any GM uncomfortable (His batting average dropped from .304 to .239 from 2011-12). Morgan was a frequent base stealing threat, despite leading the league in caught stealing in 2009 and 2010 (17).

    Buying low on players returning from Japan can be a lucrative move, and it seems the kind of move the Phillies are interested in making right now. But Morgan's past will probably be an issue at some point, unless he's used some time overseas to mellow out. He could make for an interesting sideshow to watch in what would become a potentially dramatic year for the Phillies, combined with any thoughts Papelbon wants to throw in.

    Justin Klugh Sports
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