Morgan feels Nolasco purposely plunked him
Nats outfielder involved in incident with Marlins last season
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan felt that Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco purposely hit him with a pitch during the Nationals' 5-1 victory over the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In the first inning, Morgan led off the game, received loud boos from Marlins fans and was hit on the side by Nolasco with an 0-2 pitch. Morgan walked slowly to first base without incident. Morgan said the best thing he did was let his game do the talking instead of charging the mound.
After being hit, Morgan stole second and later scored on a single by Rick Ankiel.
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Morgan felt being hit by the pitch stemmed from an incident that occurred between the two clubs last year.
On Sept. 1, Morgan charged the mound and threw a punch at Florida right-hander Chris Volstad, who had thrown a pitch behind the left-handed hitter. Two innings earlier, Volstad hit Morgan in the lower back. Morgan went on to steal two bases in the inning, even though Washington was trailing by 11 runs. The Nats ended up losing, 16-10.
The Marlins had a problem with Morgan from the previous day, when he barreled into catcher Brett Hayes, who suffered a separated shoulder on the play.
"No question, without a doubt," said Morgan when asked if he felt Nolasco hit him on purpose Sunday. "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. I felt better by going out there and being able to steal that bag, getting myself over to third and generating a run.
"I felt more satisfied after that than staring at him and putting on my mean mug. Basically, what am I going to get out of it [by fighting]? I'm just going to hurt my team and somebody could get hurt. It's Spring Training, anyway.
"It's a plus on our side because they know we are not going to react to their negativity. It's part of the game. I know I got tested for a reason. It will probably be the last test I will get. I felt a lot better by just walking down to first, stealing second and generating a nice rally in the first inning."
Nolasco denied trying to hit Morgan on purpose. Nolasco was pitching his first Spring Training gam after missing time with a thumb injury. Nolasco also hit Danny Espinosa in the head in the same inning.
"Obviously, no matter who is up there, I'm not trying to do that. It's my first outing coming off an injury," Nolasco said.
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman declined to discuss whether Nolasco hit Morgan on purpose.
"I don't really want to comment on it because of all the history last year, all the things that were said," Riggleman said. "Enough has been said about it. Nolasco is the only one who really knows if he threw at him or not."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.