Morgan's baserunning addressed
Speedster's miscue proves costly in Monday's loss to Astros
HOUSTON -- One day after Nyjer Morgan's baserunning gaffe hung heavily in the Pirates' one-run loss, manager John Russell talked about now finding the long-term lesson in the mistake.
"With young players, a lot of times the experience that they go through is the teaching tool," Russell said. "Being an aggressive kid, you want him to take the chance. It's just being a little smarter in the decisions."
The mental error came in the fourth inning of Monday's game, which was scoreless at the time. After singling to lead off the inning, Morgan drew a pickoff throw from starter Alberto Arias that Arias threw past first baseman Lance Berkman.
Morgan took off toward second and then cruised into third. He continued shuffling down the third-base line toward home as Berkman ran toward the infield with the ball in hand. Then Morgan took off, testing Berkman, but was thrown out on a bang-bang play at the plate for the first out of the inning.
The Pirates put three more runners on before the inning ended, ensuring that Morgan would have scored had he stayed put.
The mistake has been addressed with Morgan by Russell and members of his coaching staff. Morgan was not in the starting lineup on Tuesday.
"There's certain guidelines that you'd like players to know," Russell explained. "In that situation, if there are two outs and he's aggressive and he is out on a bang-bang play at the plate, yeah, it's tough to argue. With nobody out, you've got a very good chance to score with the heart of the order coming up."
It's not the first time Morgan has been pulled aside to talk about his baserunning since he returned to the big league club in August.
Morgan has a propensity to slide into second on the outside part of the base and tag the base with his outstretched left hand. But that doesn't stop his momentum and has led to him oversliding the base on a handful of stolen base attempts. In one such instance, he was then tagged out after beating the throw.
The goal moving forward is to direct those slides straight onto the bag, which Morgan has done a better job of doing over the past week.
"It's part of the process," Russell said. "His last three or four slides he has stayed on the base, so he's made progress."
Morgan is 6-for-11 in the stolen base department for the Pirates this season.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.