Nyjer Morgan stirs up trouble again with hit on Cards catcher

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It hasn’t drawn much media coverage, but there was a troubling incident at the end of Saturday’s game between the Cardinals and Nationals involving outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who is currently appealing a suspension for a mistake he made one week ago in Philadelphia…

The Nats hammered St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse for eight earned runs and 11 hits and were well on their way to locking up a decisive victory against the heavily-favored Cardinals by the bottom of the eighth inning.  Adam Dunn walked to open the frame, Mike Morse hit a single, Ivan Rodriguez netted an RBI base hit, then Morgan reached on a bunt. 

Seconds later, pinch-hitter Willie Harris drilled a double to right field that had all runners moving and would have allowed Morgan to score easily from first base.  Morgan would have been the 13th run in an eventual 14-5 victory.

Instead of scoring, though, Morgan ran straight toward Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson, who had stepped a foot or two in front of the plate, and lowered his shoulder for an odd hockey-like check.  Anderson was caught off guard and stumbled to the side while Morgan was called out.

Because it happened so fast and the game was completely out of hand, the Cardinals simply went on with their business.  But if Morgan is in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon, you can bet his backside is going to meet an aimed fastball.

The motivation behind the hit remains unclear.  Maybe Brandon Phillips was right, and everyone really does dislike the Cardinals.  Or maybe Morgan really, really, really hates Glenn Beck and was taking a jab at Cards manager Tony La Russa via his backup catcher.  Any conspiracy theory will work for such an odd and seemingly misguided display of aggression.

Anderson, who was filling in for a banged-up Yadier Molina, spoke to reporters after the game.  Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It’s going to take a little bit bigger of a guy than that to take me down… so I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I mean, it was, because it was a cheap shot, but not really, I guess.”

Shall we do a tale of the tape?  Why not.  Anderson, 23, stands 6-foot-1 and is listed at 200 lbs.  Morgan, 30, is 6-foot-0 and listed at 170 lbs., but is a former high-level hockey player.  Perhaps the two will drop the gloves on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital.

Report: Pirates sign Felipe Rivero to four-year contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.

Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.

Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.

Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”