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09/15/12 7:50 PM ET
Morgan has been 'great' about reduced role
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUEE -- Tony Plush has become Tony Part Time, and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said his eccentric outfielder has been "great" about the transition.
Nyjer Morgan, whose slew of alter egos, presided over by Plush, won plenty of fans last season when he was the Brewers' primary center fielder, batted .304 and delivered the 10th-inning single in Game 5 of the National League Division Series that propelled the Brewers to the NL Championship Series.
This season, he is batting .243 and has played second fiddle to Carlos Gomez, who leads Morgan in center-field starts, 84-48, after Morgan got the nod on Saturday against the Mets.
"It's tough on him," Roenicke said. "He's been great. I've had a lot of conversations with him, and he understands. He's been swinging the bat well for a while now, and yet not playing much. 'Gomey' was doing so well offensively, and obviously I like his defense, that he's played almost every day. So it's been tough on Nyjer, but he's been really good."
Last year at Miller Park, the Brewers were selling out of "Tony Plush" T-shirts. This year, Morgan has kept a much lower profile.
Roenicke often stops by Morgan's locker before games to check in.
"I need to," Roenicke said. "I understand what the thinking is there, and I know he wants to perform well. And for wherever he is next year -- if he's back here, if he's somewhere else -- he knows it's important that he finishes well. To do that, he knows he needs to play some, but he understands it. So it's been nice on me. He's been great about it."
Morgan will be arbitration eligible again this winter after earning $2.35 million in 2012.
The Brewers hope to have first baseman Corey Hart back in the starting lineup by Tuesday, when the team begins a big road trip to Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Cincinnati. Hart has been sidelined since Sunday with a left foot injury, but has steadily been increasing his activity and could be available to pinch-hit on Sunday afternoon.
"If everything went perfect, hopefully Tuesday," is the target to start, manager Ron Roenicke said.
With Hart out, Roenicke has been choosing a first baseman based on matchups, and that duty fell Saturday to Taylor Green. He is a defensive step down from the other option, Travis Ishikawa, but Roenicke preferred Green's bat against Mets starter Jenrry Mejia.
Even though Tyler Thornburg's one-inning relief appearance Friday was his first chance to pitch since Sept. 2, Roenicke has not ruled out another start for Thornburg before the end of the season. The Brewers' original aim was to slot Thornburg into the rotation by now, but that plan changed when the team charged into postseason contention.
Thornburg's last start was Sept. 2, for Triple-A Nashville against Memphis.
"He's not going to go as deep as he would have if we got him in right away," Roenicke said. "But that's OK. I think we all like where we are right now, and we'll see what happens here these two days, and then we'll go on the road."