Nyjer Morgan didn’t have a particularly long stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he made an impression.
Morgan’s eccentric personality, to go with his good defensive range and occasional pop with the bat, made him quite popular in Pittsburgh despite playing just 157 games in a Pirates jersey over three seasons.
Now, nearly five years after leaving Pittsburgh via trade, Morgan will attempt to restart his big-league career with Cleveland. Following a year in Japan, the 33-year-old outfielder signed a minor-league contract with the Indians on Tuesday. The deal includes an invitation to major-league camp.
Morgan performed well upon arriving in Washington, but he was dealt to the Brewers following a tepid 2010. The man who occasionally calls himself “Tony Plush” got comfortable quickly in Milwaukee, contributing a career-best 3.3 wins above replacement (according to Baseball-Reference.com) as the Brewers won the NL Central in 2011.
He fell precipitously from those heights in 2012, dropping from a .304/.357/.421 line to .239/.302/.308 – essentially replacement-level production for an NL outfielder. Morgan signed with Yokohama of the Japan Central League last year, but will now give stateside baseball a second chance.
For a man who briefly tried his hand at junior hockey, returning to America won’t be the biggest adjustment of his athletic career.