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.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.