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Nyjer Morgan: Back where he belongs

Returning to the major leagues, Morgan is proving already he belongs in Cleveland

Nyjer Morgan: Back where he belongs
April 9, 2014
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Few people get to travel the world.

For center fielder Nyjer Morgan, he's had to endure just that in order to keep his big league career alive.

Signed to a minor league deal this offseason with an invite to spring training, Morgan has quickly impressed Cleveland with his speed, bat and unique veteran presence.

“He’s been on base more than half the time, that’s the biggest thing,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

A career .280 hitter through six years in the major leagues, Morgan has showed promise already, hitting .389 (7-for-18) with four RBI in seven games. Currently leading the Tribe with a .520 on-base percentage, the left-handed hitter has given the top of the lineup an energy boost with Michael Bourn sidelined by injury.

“That’s the only way I know how to play is with energy,” Morgan said. “It feels good just to be in this position.”

Drafted by Pittsburgh as a 33rd round pick in 2002, he played for Washington before making a name for himself in Milwaukee during their postseason run in 2011. Also known for his crazy antics through his other identity and nickname Tony Plush, Morgan has just been his reserved self so far in his time with his new team. 

“I’m trying to stay humble,” he said. I’m trying to keep my buddy T-Plush from coming back from on vacation….he’s around,” Morgan said jokingly. “This is probably one of the best groups I’ve played with."

Since coming to Cleveland, the 33-year-old has been on a mission, hoping to prove he and Plush are worthy of another year in the major leagues.

That wasn't the case at this time one season ago.

Left unclaimed on the free agent market in 2013, Morgan signed with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of the Japan Nippon Professional League. He didn't dissapoint, hitting .294 with 11 homers in 108 games for the BayStars.

With Bourn dealing with injuies last year and at the start of spring training, the Tribe decided to take a chance on the veteran hitter.

“We thought in the short term having him leadoff with his energy and the ability to change the game with his legs might payoff for us, and it has,” Francona said. ”He had a really good camp, I just didn’t know if we’d have a spot for him.”

Little did the team know they would have a spot for him, right at the top of their lineup as Bourn landed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury to start the regular season.

"He's doing a great job of setting the table," Michael Brantley said. "You see the hustle and drive that he puts into every at-bat. He keeps it light in the dugout, always cheering for every player and motivating every guy."

Sometimes all it takes is another chance and Morgan is thankful for his new opportunity with his new club.

"This is probably the most comfortable I've felt in my six years in the bigs," he said. "I know myself, I know what I'm capable of doing. I'm not trying to get ahead of myself and not trying to be somebody I'm not. I know the type of player I am."

Nobody knows what the future holds once Bourn returns, but for now, he has found another place in the world to call home.

"It's not in my hands," Morgan said. "The only thing I can do is take care of my little part and do what I can for this team and the organization. Whatever role they want me to do, I'm all for it."

Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at

User Comments

April 10, 2014 - 11:21 AM EDT
Wouldn't surprise me to see Morgan get the DH at bats vs righties when Bourn returns.
April 10, 2014 - 11:01 AM EDT
Ok guys......... hes been great but its still so early.

I think Tito can find a way to get both Bourn and Morgan bats. Provided Morgan keeps doing what he is doing. We didn't see it last year but Bourn is a great base stealer with a great glove and a solid lead off guy. No reason both can't stay although that means Giambi is out of a position so it is a difficult situation. For now I wouldn't mind seeing Bourn batting 9th. Those two back to back could really set things up very nice.

What do you say Santana? Can you play short stop?
April 10, 2014 - 8:27 AM EDT
All I can say about Nyjer


The man LOVES to ball!!!
April 9, 2014 - 11:59 PM EDT
Maybe the Indians' brass is willing to pay a signifigant amount of Bourn's annual salary to get a good spec or two in return. If they could free up about 7 million a year, would that give them enough to sign Masty?
April 9, 2014 - 11:40 PM EDT
Count me as someone pleasantly surprised by what Morgan has given so far. Shoot, he's done more out of the leadoff spot in one week than Bourn has to date as an Indian. Okay, obviously I am being funny there, but he's doing exactly what the Indians paid Bourn $13 million a year to do. I said it in the offseason and will say it again now, the Indians need to consider trading Bourn. I don't know who would take him, but I'd gladly take that $13 million and use it on Masterson.
April 9, 2014 - 8:37 PM EDT
Good pick for the leadoff 2nd game Francona, 0-4 with 3K, 30 yr old with a .215 career average, at least he can play 32 positions though
April 9, 2014 - 8:33 PM EDT
How about when Bourne comes back the Indians platoon Morgan and Bourne in center field and DH?
April 9, 2014 - 7:14 PM EDT
This is somewhat of a conundrum. I like Bourn, but there is no way at this point I would put him in the leadoff spot ahead of Morgan. What would any of you do? Has Morgan created enough value for himself to be traded? If so, what would he bring back? Who needs a CF and leadoff hitter?

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