Morgan to give total effort while batting eighth

Morgan to give total effort while batting eighth

MIAMI -- A day after not being penciled into the lineup in the series finale with St. Louis, Washington outfielder Nyjer Morgan was batting in the eighth hole to begin a series at Florida on Monday.

Morgan, used to batting near the top of the order, received heavy criticism from manager Jim Riggleman and his teammates for needlessly bumping Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson in the Nationals' 14-5 victory on Saturday. Morgan also batted eighth in the game. The day off gave him more time to ponder what happened Saturday.

"It's [the manager's] thoughts that I shouldn't be in the lineup," said Morgan, who also has suffered his worst offensive month of the year in August, batting .260. "I guess it was perceived as a nasty play, that I was intentionally trying to hurt somebody instead of asking me about the situation ... which was very uncomfortable, but I'm not going to go out and throw fuel on the fire.

"I'm just going to be as professional as I can about the situation. I thought I should have been in [the lineup] Sunday."

Morgan's main concern is that he's going to get a bad reputation because of the play.

"I don't want to be perceived as a dirty player," Morgan said. "It was just an intense play. I kinda grazed [Anderson], which wasn't in my eyes intentional. I guess I should have slid, next time I'll slide."

Riggleman said his decision to move Morgan to the eighth spot was based on his recent reduction in on-base percentage, but he would like Morgan to reclaim his spot atop the order. Morgan, who has 31 stolen bases this season, has only three in August to go with 11 hits this month.

"I think our ballclub is best when he's leading off or maybe batting second," Riggelman said. "It's got to get to a point where we're getting more of the .340, .350, .360 on-base percentage for him to really nail that spot down for us. He's done a lot more of that -- he's really brought that [on-base-percentage] up.

"I think he will get back to where he was last year. There's no question our ballclub will fare better with him at the top of the lineup."

Morgan planned to approach Monday's game with the same intensity -- even if it's from the bottom of the order.

"He's the skipper and he's gonna make those calls," Morgan said. "I could care less where I'm batting in the lineup. It doesn't get to me. I mean I know where I should be at in the lineup."

As for Saturday's gaffe, Morgan would do things differently.

"I should have maybe apologized to him at the time," Morgan said of Anderson.