Former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has noted the fact that Morgan is hitting second for the Brewers, after protesting a move out of the leadoff spot late in the 2010 season. “Sometimes a change of scenery is what you need,” Riggleman said. “Not hitting leadoff was not going to sit well with him in Washington, but you go somewhere else and say, ‘Well, this is my role.’ ”
When the Brewers traded for Morgan in March 2011, General Manager Doug Melvin sat him down and asked about some of the incidents in Washington, but stressed he should be himself — even if “himself” included an alter-ego or three. (Morgan calls his serious, interviewee persona “Tony Gumbel,” and when he cuts himself off from members of the media he says he is “Tony Hush.”)
“I told Nyjer to go out there and play and have fun,” said Melvin, who slipped once during this interview and referred to Morgan as “Tony,” as in Plush. “I said, ‘View this as a new start.’ . . . The way he plays the game is very important for us. He plays the game hard. He plays with toughness. And we felt as an organization we needed a little toughness. Sometimes you get shoved around a little bit.”
No one has shoved around the Brewers more in recent years than the Cardinals, and a month ago Morgan shoved back. In a game at Busch Stadium, he tossed a wad of chewing tobacco in the vicinity of Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, nearly touching off a brawl, then took to Twitter and referred to St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols — who had rushed in to get between Morgan and Carpenter — as “Alberta” and “she.” Morgan was already despised by the Cardinals from his Washington days, after he ran over catcher Bryan Anderson in 2010.
On Wednesday night, Morgan faces Carpenter again for the first time since the near-brawl. But don’t expect any fireworks between Morgan and the Cardinals. In Monday night’s Game 2, Morgan found himself at first base after a walk, a few steps away from Pujols. Nary a word was spoken between them.
“You can’t say anything right there,” Morgan said after the game. “It wasn't the right time.”
Will there be a right time, perhaps before this series is over? At the question, Morgan sank into the chair at his locker, then rose back up with a gleam suddenly in his eye.
“We’ll see,” Tony Plush said. “Stay tuned. Aaaaaaaaah!”