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.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.