That's because Morgan was benched Sunday , a punishment for his actions on Saturday, reports the Nationals Daily News .
In the eighth inning of Saturday's game, the Nats put up a six-spot against the Cardinals. Morgan attempted a sacrifice bunt but was safe at first on an error by pitcher Mike MacDougal. On a Willie Harris double, Morgan was racing around third base to score the fourth run of the inning of a game the Nats would go on to win 14-6.
Instead of focusing on winning the game, Morgan veered away from home plate and elbow-blocked catcher Bryan Anderson's back as Albert Pujols held onto the relay throw, seeing that Morgan could not be thrown out. Unbeknownst to Morgan in his rage, he did not touch home plate. Ivan Rodriguez grabbed him and propelled him back to the plate, and a scrambling Morgan slapped home plate, but ended up being called out due to Rodriguez's physical contact.
Manager Jim Riggleman was not happy with the incident and believes Morgan was angered by batting eighth instead of his customary leadoff spot.
"I think it was just a culmination of Nyjer's anger from not hitting first," Riggleman said. "[He] did an unprofessional thing. He went after the catcher. I certainly don't condone that."
Morgan is hitting .259/.316/.321 in 486 at-bats, not exactly numbers befitting a leadoff man despite 94 starts leading off, plus an additional 11 starts in the two-hole. His start in the eighth spot on Saturday was his first not batting first or second -- and to hear Riggleman tell it, he didn't take the news well."I think [Morgan's frustration] just was building up all day," Riggleman added. "I think he thought I was wearing that [catcher's] equipment there at home plate."
Riggleman said he apologized to both Anderson and Cards manager Tony LaRussa, but held Morgan out not just to make a statement but to avoid any confrontation.
"I can't minimize [the incident], because if I take the approach that there's nothing wrong with it, we're gonna get people hurt on the field," Riggleman said. "There's gotta be retaliation. If Nyjer was playing today, he'd get hit."Morgan is quickly gaining a reputation as a hothead, both with this and firing a baseball in the stands in Philadelphia angrily earlier in August. He earned a seven-game suspension for that offense, which he is appealing.
-- Evan Brunell
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