Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 6/10/12
Emotion in the game of baseball can be a tricky thing. There's a fine line between playing with passion and showing up the opposition. Perhaps no player has toed this line closer than Nyjer Morgan. When things are going well for both the player and the ball club, Morgan's fun-loving and entertaining alter ego "Tony Plush" is revered by Brewers fans. In 2011, T-Plush was on full display, with its signature moment coming as Morgan flashed the "T" after sending the Brewers to the National League Championship Series with a walk-off single in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series. But this season, T-Plush has been notably absent, or as Morgan would put it, "Tony Hushed." Morgan admitted Sunday that he has not brought it out because of his early season struggles at the plate. Entering play Sunday, Morgan was hitting just .230. "When you are dealing with the slow start I've had, you want to pick it back up before you bring it out and start doing all the little antics," Morgan said. "You still have to respect the game. Plus, you don't want to rub people the wrong way." The slow start hasn't just limited the amount of time Brewers fans have seen Tony Plush come out this season, but also has limited the time they've seen Morgan in the lineup. With the emergence of Norichika Aoki and Carlos Gomez continuing to play against left-handed pitchers, Morgan has seen his playing time decrease. "I'm not frustrated, it is just one of those things," Morgan said. "I can't get down on myself. Other guys are swinging the bat well. I respect the manager's decision to do whatever it takes to win, because it's all about winning. "However they want to put out the lineup, I'm all for it. I told Skip early, it doesn't matter how you use me as long as we win." The decrease in playing time would have bothered Morgan earlier in his career and the fact that he's accepting of his role is a great sign of maturity. The seven-year veteran admitted that he wouldn't have handled this as well earlier in his career. A similar situation occurred while he was playing with Washington in 2010 and that really taught him how to deal with a decreased role and how to contribute when he gets his chance. "I was in and out of the lineup, up and down the order and (former Nationals manager) Jim Riggleman actually just told me one time 'don't worry about it, you are going to contribute somehow in certain situations.'" Morgan said. "As a young player I didn't understand it. Now being an older player and a veteran, I understand the situation." 2010 also saw Morgan's lowest single season batting average when he hit .253. The career .283 hitter hasn't had too many stretches like this in his career. "He's gone through a tough season so far," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Last year he came out and things were great from the get go and hit .300 the whole year for us and played all the time. He's going through a little trial here where your character is tested, emotions are tested and I think he's done a real nice job with it. "He's stayed positive. He keeps battling and he is swinging the bat better and hopefully we get him back to the same guy we had last year." While Morgan has limited his self-proclaimed antics on the field this season, Roenicke still sees emotion from a player that thrives on it. "He's still emotional but I think that doesn't mean it is a negative," Roenicke said. "He is emotional in definitely a positive way. But sometimes emotionally he will do something he shouldn't do, and I know it bothers him. "I know he wants to be a gamer and that part is great. His emotional spark is really important to this club, but he wants to make sure it is always on the positive end." Anyone that watched the Brewers at some point last season saw how much fun the club had on the field, it was evident. This season, it has been toned down. There hasn't been "beast mode" or anything like it. Morgan doesn't know why this year's team hasn't brought something out. "We still have a great group of guys here," Morgan said. "I can't really pinpoint that and sometimes I like to pinpoint things. We are just a new club and we have to understand each other more and more as we work together."
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