3/26/2014 7:59 P.M. ET
Morgan 'older and wiser' since time with Crew
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There was much more Nyjer Morgan than Tony Plush in Indians camp this spring, partly because the colorful former Brewers outfielder says he now considers himself "older and wiser," and partly because, as a non-roster invitee, he was too focused on winning a job to let his alter ego take over.
But old habits die hard.
"There's still flashes of T-Plush," said Cleveland closer John Axford, an old Milwaukee teammate. "He just picks his spots now."
Morgan is back in the Major Leagues after a year in Japan, having won a job with the Indians while outfielder Michael Bourn rehabs a hamstring injury. Though he had "a blast" with the Yokohama BayStars and predicts a "special year" for the Indians, he said part of him would always be a Brewer.
Freed from a tense tenure in Washington mere days before the 2011 season opener, Morgan and his many personalities were a hit in Milwaukee. He played a starring role on and off the field in his debut season, winning a cult following with his fiery postgame interviews and off-day antics -- he once obliged a Twitter follower's snarky suggestion that he go fly a kite -- all while winning games with a series of clutch hits. None was bigger than the single he "tickled" up the middle in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series, scoring Carlos Gomez and giving the Brewers their first postseason series victory in 29 years.
Morgan raced around the resulting Champagne celebration wearing a S.W.A.T. Team helmet, which he still keeps at home along with other artifacts from his Brewers tenure.
"For me, it's still home," Morgan said. "Some very great memories in Milwaukee."
What made it such a good fit?
"It was all the personalities in the clubhouse," Morgan said. "It's somewhat like here [with the Indians]. Everyone fits. There's great team chemistry, and I was one of those pieces of the puzzle. Sometimes you don't know if it's going to fit until you test it out."
Morgan fell into a reserve role in 2012 but remained a model teammate, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. He remembers liking Morgan from the very first introduction in Milwaukee's Spring Training clubhouse.
"He's high maintenance, yeah," Roenicke said with a smile, "but I like him. I thought his energy was great. I thought even though there were a couple of things he got in a little trouble for, the guy means well, whatever he does. The guy is a good teammate. He's got so much energy that it's contagious. I really like Nyjer."
The Indians and Brewers will not meet in 2014 unless they reach the World Series, but Morgan vowed to return to Milwaukee someday.
"Twenty years from now, when they bring us all back, I'll be a part of that group," Morgan said. "It was a special moment. I know for sure I'll be coming back as an older 'T' and a wiser 'T.'"
Sore right shoulder could sideline Segura
PHOENIX -- Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was still taking at-bats in Minor League camp on Wednesday, unable to play the field because of soreness behind his throwing shoulder and unable to say for sure whether the problem would be solved in time for Monday's season opener.
He underwent an MRI scan on Tuesday that came back negative, but the Brewers may decide to hold Segura out of the team's remaining Spring Training games to preserve the option of a backdated stint on the 15-day disabled list.
"I'm not going to say it's not [a possibility]," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Segura and Roenicke each stressed that team doctors have examined the shoulder thoroughly and do not consider the matter serious. The problem is not the rotator cuff or labrum, but a strained muscle, Roenicke said.
Segura will get more at-bats in a Triple-A game on Thursday and will travel with the team to Milwaukee.
A National League All-Star last season who is expected to bat second for the Brewers this season, Segura has not played in a big league game since March 18.
"It feels much better, but I don't know," Segura said. "Hopefully, it's going to be ready for Opening Day. Maybe, I don't know."
If Segura feels well enough by the weekend, the Brewers would like to get him into one or both of the team's exhibition games against the Royals at Miller Park. If the soreness persists, the team, by rule, could place him on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 21.
Because Segura's status is in question, the Brewers opted to bring Elian Herrera along to Milwaukee for the weekend games. He was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, but that move could be reversed if Segura is placed on the DL.
While Segura worked to get back on the field, the clock was ticking on his agent and Brewers officials to work out a contract extension. General manager Doug Melvin said a recent report that talks had "broken down" was not accurate.
"When the season starts, I'll tell my agent to stop talking about it," Segura said. "I don't want to have distractions in the season from talking about my contract. We have things to do in the field. I don't want to get those comments in my head, because I'm here to play my game and win some ballgames."
Asked for an update on the status of talks, Melvin said, "I'm not going to comment on that."
In an email exchange Tuesday, assistant general manager Gord Ash cited club policy of not publicly discussing contract negotiations. Segura's agent, Joe Klein, has not returned telephone messages.
Segura will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2015 season at the earliest, or eligible for free agency until after the '18 season. But both sides had expressed some interest in a long-term deal that provides cost certainty for the club and security for Segura, similar to recent agreements between the Brewers and pre-arbitration players like catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
The challenge was pegging Segura's value; comps range from the four-year, $12.5 million pact between the Astros and second baseman Jose Altuve that covers Altuve's arbitration seasons and includes club options for two years of free agency, to a seven-year, $58 million contract between the Braves and shortstop Andrelton Simmons that covers all of the Gold Glove Award winner's arbitration seasons plus two free-agent seasons.
"We're always open to [talks]," Melvin said last month. "We've locked up some, some we didn't. We didn't get Prince [Fielder]. We offered him a deal earlier on to buy into free agency, but it just depends what players want. Not a lot of them want long-term deals that will take away free agency, and we like to get deals that have at least a year of free agency if we can."
Olympians to help Crew open regular season
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A musical tradition and an Olympics trio will highlight pregame festivities on Opening Day at Miller Park.
The 46th season in Brewers franchise history and 45th in Milwaukee begins Monday, when the team hosts the Braves at 1:10 p.m. CT. Miller Park lots open at 10 a.m., and the stadium gates open at 11 a.m.
Three Wisconsin-born athletes from last month's Winter Olympics in Sochi will throw ceremonial first pitches. Matt Antoine of Prairie du Chien was a bronze medalist in the Skeleton competition, and Brianna Decker of Dousman and Jessica Vetter from Cottage Grove were members of the silver-medal-winning U.S. women's ice hockey team. Decker is on the University of Wisconsin women's ice hockey team, and Vetter is an alumna of the university.
For the 10th consecutive year, Joseph Attanasio, the father of principal owner Mark Attanasio, will sing the National Anthem, surrounded on the field by his family.
The Brewers are advising fans to plan ahead for parking and to leave extra time to enter the ballpark this season because of enhanced security measures mandated by Major League Baseball. There will not be overflow parking at Wisconsin State Fair Park this year.
Gallardo helping rival raise cancer awareness
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Their teams may be big rivals, but Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo is happily lending a hand to Cardinals reliever Jason Motte.
Gallardo has been sporting one of Motte's "K cancer" T-shirts in Brewers colors, part of a league-wide initiative to raise money for charity with the hope of someday striking out the disease. For Gallardo, the effort has special significance because his mother died of cancer in November 2012.
"Jason reached out to my agent and myself knowing the background," Gallardo said. "The things that he's doing for different charities, I think it goes a long way. Anything I can do to help with something like that, I'm up for it."
The website 108stitches.com went live on March 17, with 108 Stitches showcasing the "Strike Out Cancer" tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefit from the T-shirts sales, and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.
"At the end of the day, it's about reaching people," Motte said. "Baseball is great and everything, but there are other really important things going on out there that affect a lot of people. Wearing these T-shirts shows people that they're not alone. They're not sitting there doing chemo by themselves where no one cares. People do care, whether it's friends, family or baseball players. There are people who this has touched and this has affected. This is something we're trying to do to get the word out there and try to raise money to help."