Fighting slump, Morgan out of lineup

Fighting slump, Morgan out of lineup

Fighting slump, Morgan out of lineup
MILWAUKEE -- Nyjer Morgan was his usual smiling self on Monday, though he was admittedly frustrated on the inside.

The emotional sparkplug of last year's National League Central champs was left out of the Brewers' starting lineup amid a season-opening slump. Morgan entered the night with five singles in 42 at-bats, for a .119 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He had one hit in his last 22 at-bats.

"I've got a bad case of the coldness," Morgan said. "I've just got to battle out of it."

This is uncharted territory for Morgan, at least since he joined the Brewers in a trade last March. He said he feels good in the batter's box, and has studied video for reassurance that he has not been swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.

The hits just aren't falling.

"It's frustrating. It's very frustrating," Morgan said. "You just have to keep grinding. ... It's a weird spell, man. I guess last year the spell would have been my injuries at this time of year. Even though I came out on fire, I got injured and I was out a month. That was my funk.

"Knowing me, I always start off [lousy] in April and then always progress. But I've never been through a spell like this. I have to hang in there. ... You have to still show up, same attitude, even though you're a little bit frustrated. You can't let that frustration go off and pile onto the next man. You don't want the next man to feel what you're feeling. You want to be a great teammate and be supportive of these guys."

Morgan said he understood manager Ron Roenicke's decision to start Norichika Aoki in center field. Aoki entered the night 5-for-15 in two starts plus pinch-hit appearances.

"If the right pieces are clicking, you have to put the right pieces in. It's a business, too," Morgan said.

Roenicke characterized the Aoki start as a temporary move. Morgan could be back in the two-hole on Tuesday night against Astros right-hander Bud Norris. Astros left-hander J.A. Happ starts Wednesday, so the Brewers will go with Carlos Gomez, and Roenicke suggested that, given Gomez's hot start to the season, he could see more action against right-handed pitchers in the coming days.

"That's the one position we can play with a little bit because I like all three guys," Roenicke said. "We need to get Nyjer going, that's what we need to do. And before the season's out, he's going to be important to what we do. ... It's two weeks into the season. I don't want to give up on a guy that was really good for us last year. The reason we won was a lot because of him. I don't want to forget that because of two to three weeks of not swinging the bat well."