The Cleveland Indians have a number of essential roster moves to make when Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi return from the disabled list. Elliot Johnson will likely serve as the first to be demoted, leaving Nyjer Morgan as the next possible last man out. But in just two weeks of service, Morgan has established he belongs on the 25-man roster.
Although the sample size is quite small, Morgan ranks second on the ball club in batting average at .348, claiming a .484 on-base percentage, good for first on the team. The 33-year-old’s bright personality has been on display both in the dugout and on the field. His alter ego “Tony Plush” is currently put on the back burner as he tries to remain in the Tribe dugout.
After spending a season in the Japanese Central League, Morgan is back swinging the lumber as productively as ever before. In 33 plate appearances, the center fielder has a .400 BABIP, an amount that can’t be upheld. Although he is due to regress from a sensational start to 2014, Morgan has drawn seven walks, swinging at only 18.9 percent of pitches outside the zone. This brand of patience at the dish boosts the Tribe’s depth considerably.
Morgan’s stellar play in place for the injured Bourn has elicited high expectations for the center fielder once he makes it back to the Indians’ lineup card for the series against the Detroit Tigers. In a crowed outfield, Morgan possesses a similar skill set to Bourn, in theory making him unessential. It makes sense to thank Morgan and send him on his way, but his leadership and veteran bat can aid the Tribe down the stretch.
The lefty hasn’t taken the opportunity with the Indians for granted, relishing the chance to play on a playoff-contending club. “This is probably the most comfortable that I’ve felt my six years in the bigs,” Morgan told WKYC about his time with the Indians. “This is probably one of the best groups I’ve ever played with.”
With C.C. Lee making the roster in the wake of the Vinnie Pestano demotion, the team should revert back to a seven-man bullpen, sending the Taiwan native back to class AAA Columbus Clippers. Morgan’s role as a utility outfielder while also pinch hitting and pinch running mixed with his locker room presence brings far more value to the roster than Lee.