Saturday, March 26, 2011, 12:15 p.m.
NATIONALS PAGE NATIONALS VIDEO
By Mark Zuckerman
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was "disappointed" and "surprised" by comments made Friday by center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who said he expects to be let go by the organization before Opening Day.
"I'm disappointed," Riggleman said before Saturday's game against the Houston Astros. "But I understand where it's coming from."
Morgan told MLB.com he understands he's likely lost his starting job to Rick Ankiel and doesn't believe he'll remain with the Nationals much longer.
"I'm a realist," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and be like, 'Oh, no. I want to finish my career here.' I just think this place isn't for me. I'm not saying there are bad people here. It's just that, maybe, I'm not a fit here anymore. It's time to move on."
Riggleman insisted Saturday the club hasn't yet determined Morgan's fate, whether he'll start, come off the bench, be optioned to Class AAA Syracuse or released altogether. Team officials have praised the 30-year-old all spring for his work ethic and willingness to listen to coaches' advice.
"The thing about it is, Nyjer has been just a tremendous worker this spring," Riggleman said. "He's been the first guy here, putting in the time in the cage, working with Bo Porter on his baserunning. He's been an outstanding ... all-around guy.
"So I'm disappointed that he feels that way. But I'm sure it's based on he's probably seeing there's two or three other guys he's competing with. Maybe he feels like we're sending him a message that he's not our center fielder. We're still determining that. We're still determining where he fits on the club if he's not our center fielder."
Morgan got off to a terrible start this spring, collecting just one hit in his first 16 at-bats. Since then, though, he's hitting .316 with a .422 on-base percentage.
Morgan was one of only a handful of position players who didn't travel to Saturday's game in Kissimmee, instead staying back in Viera to play in a minor-league game.
Riggleman said he has no plans to talk to Morgan about his comments, pointing out that "you can't erase it," but continued to speak glowingly about the outfielder with an uncertain future.
"He's been so positive and upbeat throughout the spring, and today the same thing," Riggleman said. "He's walking around with energy and a smile on his face. He's sending off nothing but positive vibes. I guess I'm a little surprised that he made those comments."
Mark Zuckerman also blogs about the Nationals at natsinsider.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.