Nyjer Morgan thinks Ricky Nolasco purposely plunked him

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Ricky Nolasco hit Nyjer Morgan with a pitch yesterday and Morgan said afterward that he believes it was on purpose, as payback for his a) separating catcher Chris Hayes’ shoulder on a collision at the plate and then b) charging the mound and throwing a punch at Chris Volstad the next day.

Both those incidents occurred during the final month of the season and resulted in a seven-game suspension for Morgan, so if Nolasco and the Marlins were indeed holding a grudge it wouldn’t have taken a particularly long memory.

Here’s what Morgan told Bill Ladson of MLB.com yesterday when asked if the plunking was on purpose:

No question, without a doubt. It’s obvious because of what happened last year. Obviously, they haven’t turned the page. But I’m going to be a stronger player, better person. I’m not going to react to it.

Morgan went on to say that, rather than get into another altercation, he chose to simply take first base, steal second base, and come around to score a run. Or as he put it: “I felt more satisfied after that than staring at him and putting on my mean mug.”

Ladson reports that “Nolasco denied trying to hit Morgan on purpose” and also hit Danny Espinosa in what was his first appearance of the spring after being sidelined by a thumb injury. No word yet on the status of Nolasco’s mean mug.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.