First of all, it was good for the Nationals to see Morgan on the basepaths in the first place. After carrying an .063 batting average (1 for 16) and .063 on-base percentage into Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets, he reached base four times in the Nationals’ 4-3, 10-inning win, on a pair of hits (one of them a bunt single) and a pair of walks.
And once he got out there, the fun began. In the first inning, he was caught trying to steal second -- on a perfect throw from Mets catcher Mike Nickeas. As soon as Morgan returned to the dugout, Manager Jim Riggleman called him over for a pep talk.
“I said, ‘You know what? Iit seems like they throw the ball right on the button,’” Riggleman said. “He never gets a break... I just wanted him to stay positive and realize the catcher made a great throw. That’s baseball. He was aggressive [and] the catcher made a great throw. When Nyjer’s out there, they’re on their ‘A game’ in terms of stopping him from running.”
In the fifth, after drawing his second walk, Morgan stole second successfully (his first stolen base of the spring), then, with Ian Desmond on first, pulled off the front end of a double-steal.
Finally, in the ninth, after stroking a double and advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, Morgan got the suicide squeeze sign with Alberto Gonzalez at the plate. But Gonzalez failed to get the bunt down, and Morgan was tagged out -- officially a caught stealing.
“It felt good, but it’s just the start of the process,” Morgan said. “It’s still spring training. You’re working on stuff. You can’t get too high after one game. I felt good up there at the dish, and I guess I can go from there now. That’s my game.”
Here are a few other things that stood out from Tuesday’s win:
*Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann continued the trend of strong starting pitching for the Nationals, throwing three scoreless innings and allowing only one hit and a pair of walks while striking out four. Though there were several other hard-hit balls against Zimmermann, it also seemed as if he was dealing with a tight strike zone of home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn.
“My fastball command was a little better than my last time out, and the breaking pitches had a lot better feel today,” Zimmermann said. “My arm feels good. That’s the main thing right now. it’s all about just building innings.”
*Adam Carr got the win by putting up scoreless frames in the ninth and 10th. He had a solid 2010 season closing games at Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse, and could help the Nationals at some point this coming season.
*Non-roster outfielder Jeff Frazier continues to get playing time, and continues to produce. On Tuesday, he had a single and a walk, though he also committed an error in right field, one of two for the Nationals on the day. Although he has little chance of making the team, he is hitting .500 (5 for 10) with a 1.583 OPS this spring, and at the very least will be a nice piece of depth to stash at Class AAA Syracuse.