While center fielder Nyjer Morgan is enjoying time with his family during the offseason, he is definitely ready for spring training. The proud dad has been busy watching his 8 year old daughter play hockey this winter. “She’s really good, so I’m really pumped,” he said last week while in town for the Kidney Ball.
But Morgan is also very excited about playing his first full season with the Nationals.
“We’ve got the fire power, the bats - which is the ‘swat team.’ That’s what I call them,” he continued. A full season of Morgan’s speed and defense will help.
“It’s going to be great,” he said. “We definitely have the pieces here and by Rizzo taking off that interim tag off [Riggleman], that’s huge. He’s a great guy and he’s going to be the right guy to get us going.”
Morgan plans to begin working out in Florida just after the holidays. He is very excited about the new coaching changes and ready to step up and be a leader in 2010.
Acquired from the Pirates on June 30th, Morgan impressed Nationals fans during July and August when he hit .351 with 24 stolen bases.
Stabilizing the outfield, Morgan patrolled center field with grace. Sports Illustrated’s Ted Keith named Morgan one of the “real” Gold Glove winners writing “it is simply stunning that he did not win a Gold Glove.” Keith cited Morgan’s UZR of 27.8, which led all NL outfielders. UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is a complex fielding statistic used to calculate runs saved or runs cost.
“Next year, I gotta make it known,” he said of his defense. “That’s going to fuel my fire and get me going. Basically, I’ve always been an underdog. I don’t mind being an underdog. I figure, if I didn’t get hurt that last month, I probably would have had it.”
The snub has motivated Morgan to continue to shine in center field, to stay healthy, to become a team leader and to help the ballclub win more games in 2010.
“We’re going to be doing some competing this year,” he added.