BALTIMORE -- With Chad Tracy designated for assignment by the Cubs, it will be interesting to see if the Nationals have interest in the infielder/outfielder, who was drafted by Mike Rizzo in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft when both were with the D-backs.
The Nationals could use another power bat off the bench, but don't look for Washington to give up anything for him. Tracy went 11-for-44 (.250) with five RBIs.
Morgan breaks out, makes amazing catch
BALTIMORE -- Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan put on a show with the bat and glove in a 7-6 loss to the Orioles on Friday night. Morgan ended up going 4-for-5 with three runs scored.
Morgan entered the game hitting .244 and was 17-for-76 (.224) during the month of June. Baseball critics were wondering if it was time for Morgan to be sent to the Minor Leagues or to the benched in favor of Roger Bernadina. But manager Jim Riggleman announced before the game that he was sticking with Morgan.
"I have a lot of patience with Nyjer," Riggleman said. "One thing we kind of hang our hats on is last year when we got Nyjer at this time of the year, he had been doing OK in Pittsburgh, not having a great start, just treading water. Then he took off.
"He kind of did some things [recently] that we saw him do last year after we got him in a trade. Again, the glass is half-full. He is just treading water right now. He knows he hasn't got it going yet. He feels like he is ready to get it going. We need him at the top of that lineup, so we are going to be patient with him."
Morgan didn't disappoint his skipper.
Morgan started things off in the first inning by hitting a single to right off Orioles starter Jake Arrieta. Morgan would later score on a groundout by Adam Dunn.
Two innings later, Morgan singled, stole second and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Dunn.
In the bottom of the third, it looked like Corey Patterson was going to hit a home run off J.D. Martin, but Morgan climbed the wall and robbed Patterson, who then tipped his helmet to Morgan for the nice play.
"It may have been the greatest play of the year," Riggleman said.
"I'm like, 'He's got no shot,'" said Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel, as he watched Morgan scale the wall. "Especially, you know how much the ball travels here. But that's one of the finest [catches] I have seen."
Patterson ranked the catch among the best he's ever seen.
"It was a good play," Patterson said. "I think that's pretty much neck and neck, right below the catch Gary Mathews [Jr.] had in '06, in Texas. Gary was probably the best catch I've ever seen. But his was right behind it. I thought I had enough to get it [out], but he climbed up there, and it was a great catch. He does a great job for them, had a great game today."
Morgan didn't have much to say about the catch because Washington lost the game.
"It was a nice catch, but the game hurts -- losing to the ballclub over there," Morgan said. "We have a really good team over here. We didn't bury them. That's what really hurts. The catch was nothing. Wish we would have had that 'W' tonight."
Morgan would get two more hits and score one more run before grounding out in the eighth inning.
"I've been working with [hitting coach Rick Eckstein]. I'm just staying focused," Morgan said. "I've had my little ups and downs. I had four hits, but it's not good when you get that loss."
Speedy Harris back patrolling outfield
BALTIMORE -- Nationals outfielder Willie Harris received his first start since June 16 on Friday. Since May, Harris hasn't received much playing time because the team wants to see what Roger Bernadina and Mike Morse can do in a platoon situation in right field.
Harris acknowledged that he is sometimes frustrated because of the lack of playing time, but he knows his role is coming off the bench like he has done since he joined the Nationals two years ago. Entering Friday's action, Harris is hitting .151 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.
Riggleman acknowledged that the lack of playing time is most likely the reason for Harris' slump.
"There have been some times where I haven't started him in a lot of ballgames," Riggleman said. "I have gone a little too far with him and [Adam] Kennedy between starts. I think a little rust got on them, so when they get up there to pinch-hit, they are not quite as sharp."
Harris said he is hoping that the team and the fans don't give up on him. He pointed that he got off to a slow start the past two years, and he was able to put up decent numbers.
"I will continue to work and give you 100 percent on the field," Harris said. "That's really all I can do."
With the Trade Deadline almost a month away, Harris doesn't believe he will be traded to a contender, but wouldn't be caught off guard if it happens.
"I don't think so, because the Nationals will be good this year, and I think the team will be good next year. You need guys like myself," Harris said. "If I'm traded to a contender, why would they want me? Because I can play different positions. When I'm given ample at-bats, I can help you."