Sunday, March 26, 2017

Former Vernon Viper Morgan, At 36 Years Old, Is Still Playing Baseball:

Here is an article on former Vernon Vipers defenceman Nyjer Morgan.

Morgan played this past fall-winter with the Caracas Lions (English: Caracas Lions) is a Venezuelan baseball team that currently plays in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.

Morgan was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 33rd round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft. On September 1st 2007 Morgan made his major league debut for the Pirates against the Milwaukee Brewers as a late-season call-up. On June 30 2009 Morgan was traded to the Washington Nationals along with pitcher Sean Burnett in exchange for outfielder Lastings Milledge and pitcher Joel Hanrahan. On March 27 2011 Morgan was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for prospect Cutter Dykstra (son of baseball player Lenny Dykstra). After playing for three MLB teams, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Washington Morgan elected free agency played the 2013 season in Japan with the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Yokohama DeNa BayStars. Morgan would return to the Majors in 2014 where he played with the Cleveland Indians.  After just playing in 15 games spending most of his time with the Tribe on the DL Morgan was released on August 5th 2014 before heading to South Korea in 2014. Morgan played last summer with the Puebla Pericos (English: Puebla Parakeets) a team from Mexico.

Morgan attended the Vernon Vipers Training camp in 1996. Morgan played as an affiliated player "AP" as a 16 year old with the Vipers during the (1996-1997) season while playing with the KIJHL North Okanagan Kings.

Nyjer Morgan's Player Profile:

This was posted on the OPSN website:

Nyjer Morgan, at 36 years old, is still playing baseball… and well

Jonathan Powell  November 7, 2016 

Over the last few decades, there were few Major League Baseball players as polarizing as Nyjer Morgan.

Many fans around the league remember Morgan for his outrageous antics, his unrestrained attitude and his frequent suspensions and fines. Most Milwaukee Brewers fans, however, regardless of where they stand on his eccentric personality or alter ego “Tony Plush,” still hold an eternal gratitude for his two-year tenure with the team all thanks to one powerful moment in 2011 – when he delivered a walk-off single in the 10th inning of Game Five of the National League Division Series, giving the Brewers their first playoff series win since 1982.

Morgan only lasted one more season in Milwaukee, batting .239/.302/.308 with three home runs, 16 RBI and 12 stolen bases over 322 plate appearances. After the regular season, he refused his assignment to Triple-A and shortly after hit the free agent market.

Although no major league club picked up him the following year (2013), he did take a job in Japan playing for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars and performed well, hitting .294/.361/.434 with 11 home runs, 50 RBI and three stolen bases in 108 games.

He got another shot in Major League Baseball in 2014, signing a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians after Michael Bourn‘s injury left him starting the season on the disabled list. Morgan earned himself a spot on the 25-man roster and got off to a hot start, hitting .348/.484/.348 with four RBI and seven walks in his first eight games but was demoted to Triple-A after Bourn returned.

He fared worse in the minors, hitting .200/.234/.317 but still managed a home run, seven RBI and stolen base in 15 games. He was again recalled in early May and resumed hitting well, slashing .333/.333/.556 with a home run and two RBI. Unfortunately, Morgan sprained his right knee less than two weeks after rejoining the team, an injury that landed him on the 60-day disabled list and effectively ended his season. In early August, the team activated him and promptly released him back into free agency. It would be his last major league appearance.

For most players, especially those at 34 years old, the injury would have been career ending. For Morgan, it was merely another setback in a career that had seen almost as many ups as downs.

In December of 2014, he signed a one-year $700,000 contract with Korean Baseball’s Hanwha Eagles but was dismissed from the team twice during preseason camp and lasted only 10 games before being released.

With as much resilience as attitude, Morgan again returned to baseball in 2016, this time signing with the Mexican League’s Pericos de Puebla. He enjoyed a considerable resurgence, batting a near-career-high .306/.402/.474 while tying a career-best 11 home runs, setting a career-best in RBI with 58 and leading the team in stolen bases with 22.

Even now, at 36 years old, Morgan is still not done. In early October, he joined the Leones de Caracas of the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional (Venezuelan Winter League) and has since been playing well. So far through 15 games, he’s hitting .300/.333/.450 with five doubles, two triples, eight RBI and a stolen base.

Barring injury, Morgan may well take his dedication to baseball as far as he possibly can. If his past is any indicator, his body may be the only thing keeping him from taking the field every day, as long as he has a team that is willing to let him do so.

Jonathan Powell is the Managing Editor of Outside Pitch MLB and the Milwaukee Brewers writer. Follow him on Twitter @jonathannashhh.

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