A day after getting involved in a fracas with the Marlins during a 16-10 loss, Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan said on Thursday he doesn't have any regrets. On Friday, he received an eight-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his actions.
"I know I'm going to get suspended here," Morgan said on Thursday.
On Wednesday night, Morgan charged the mound in the sixth inning and threw a punch at Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad, who threw a pitch behind the left-handed hitter. It marked the second time Volstad threw a pitch at Morgan. Two innings earlier, Volstad hit Morgan in the lower back. Morgan went on to steal two bases in the inning even though Washington was down, 14-3.
The Marlins had a problem with Morgan dating back to Tuesday's game, when he barreled into catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.
"I guess they felt like the game was over and they didn't get enough of the retaliation, but it was the fourth inning," Morgan said to MLB.com via phone. "I'm not a quitter and this organization didn't quit. You saw what happened. We ended up coming back. The game is not over.
"Besides that fact, just play the game. Everyone kind of blew it out of proportion and put it on Morgan. I knocked down the catcher, I took my dose and everybody is blowing it way out of proportion, which I don't understand. I guess baseball isn't used to seeing this anymore -- good old-fashioned hard-nose baseball."
Morgan said nobody in the Nationals' clubhouse said anything negative toward him after the game. Asked specifically if third baseman Ryan Zimmerman or catcher Ivan Rodriguez had said anything to him, Morgan said, "Nothing that I know of."
Morgan has been the center of attention of late. He is currently appealing a seven-game suspension for throwing a ball at a fan at Citizens Bank Park, so he is now facing a total of 15 games. He is expected to have a hearing with the league office about that incident on Tuesday. He said he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Last Saturday against the Cardinals, it looked like Willie Harris' hit a bases-clearing double, but third-base umpire Angel Hernandez called Morgan out, because a live baserunner cannot be touched or aided by a teammate or coach. Rodriguez pushed Morgan back to home plate when Morgan missed the plate while trying to knock down catcher Bryan Anderson.
The replay showed there wasn't a need for Morgan to touch Anderson, because the ball wasn't close to the plate.
"It was totally inexcusable," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said last Sunday. "It was a mistake. I can't minimize it. If I take the approach that there is nothing wrong it, then we are going to get people hurt on the field. It has never happened before, and it will not happen again."
Riggleman believed Morgan wasn't thinking because he was angry that he was hitting eighth in the lineup. Morgan has spent most of the season as the leadoff hitter.
"He was upset about some things and did an unprofessional thing -- he went after the catcher," Riggleman said. "I certainly don't condone that. We have all made mistakes. I don't think that is Nyjer's style of play to do something like that. Maybe he thought I was there with that equipment at the plate. I think [hitting eighth] had a lot to do with it."
Asked on Thursday about his relationship with Riggleman, Morgan declined to comment, but said, "I would rather leave that alone."
Morgan is having the worst season of his big league career thus far, hitting .257 with 21 RBIs and a team-leading 33 stolen bases. He was expected to do much better than that after hitting .351 in 49 games for Washington last season.
"It's one of those years where everything didn't line up the way I wanted to, but it's not going to discourage me from the player [I want to become]," Morgan said. "In my eyes, it's not a [bad year], but I was inconsistent. I was hot and cold."