VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25: Rick Ankiel #43 of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25 2011 in Viera Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Last September, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark quoted scouts in a story entitled, "Expanding the postseason", who told him that with all the drama outfielder Nyjer Morgan and the Washington Nationals had been through in 2010, "Two scouts whose coverage assignments include the Nationals say they've come away with the impression the team is determined to trade Morgan this winter after a series of aggravating decisions and actions, on-field and off, this season." Asked about the chances of Morgan starting 2011 in a curly-W cap, the scout said, "'Nonexistent.'"
Morgan wasn't traded, of course, and heading into camp, the 30-year-old outfielder was given a cautious vote of confidence by D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, who told the press Morgan would be given every opportunity to claim the role of the Nats' leadoff man and everyday center fielder. Anyone following Spring Training knows how that's gone.
As of yesterday, MLB.com's Bill Ladson (and now the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore) was reporting that it was now a two-way race for the Opening Day spot in center field, with Morgan and 31-year-old Rick Ankiel going head-to-head for the position with Ankiel in the lead as Morgan continued to struggle in all aspects of his game.
The Nats' GM wouldn't concede that it was down to a two-man race, telling reporters instead, as quoted in MASNSports.com's Pete Kerzel's article entitled, "Rizzo on center field battle, Rule 5 picks, bullpen's struggles", that all three potential center fielders, Morgan, Ankiel and Roger Bernadina, "bring a different skill set to the position, but I do think it's still an open competition," which will continue until, " I'm comfortable with the decision."
According to ESPN.com's Mr. Stark's sources (which may or may not be the same sources, who knows?), however, as quoted this afternoon in an update of his, "Three Strikes: 2B a problem spot for Phillies", which is subtitled, "STRIKE TWO -- SPRING RUMBLINGS", the Nationals are apparently still looking to deal the former Pirates' outfielder:
"Scouts covering the Nationals report that there might not be a player in baseball more eminently available than Nyjer Morgan. "They're trying to give him away," said one scout. "I wouldn't be shocked if he got released at this point."
Released? Sent to Syracuse? It's looking more like the Nyjer Morgan experiment in the nation's capital might have ended this Spring.