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Morgan to miss Pirates' final games

Morgan to miss Pirates' final games

SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates will be without outfielder Nyjer Morgan for the final games of the season after it was confirmed on Friday that a mild left hamstring tear will not permit Morgan to be at 100 percent.

Morgan suffered the injury on Thursday in Milwaukee while running down the first-base line in the first inning. He was immediately taken out of the game, though Morgan was able to run off the field.

Even though Morgan has outwardly lobbied against an assignment to play winter ball in Mexico, management has apparently not ruled out the possibility just yet. The Mexican League season starts in mid-October and runs through December.

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Part of the final determination will obviously have to do with how long Morgan is hampered by the hamstring injury. The Pirates still seem to believe that Morgan would benefit from the assignment if he is physically ready.

"We don't want him to go down there and not feel well physically," manager John Russell said. "But we want to make sure that he has a good offseason as far as his workouts, and that he comes into Spring Training in a little better shape than he did last year."

Despite his season ending a few days early, Morgan did compile quite the resume over the past month, one that has him in place to make a legitimate claim to a starting outfield spot next season.

Brandon Moss' status for Opening Day 2009 is up in the air as he prepares for offseason knee surgery. And based on the distribution of playing time between Morgan and Steve Pearce in September, it would seem that Morgan has been the more impressive of the two.

The idea of having a legitimate leadoff threat with Morgan and two centerfield-type players (Nate McLouth and Morgan) playing in the same outfield is also a dynamic that Russell has said he likes.

"He did some really good things," Russell said. "He was exciting. He really brought a different dimension to our lineup. He made a lot of good adjustments in the outfield. He's made a lot of great strides."

After hitting just .143 in his two previous stints with the big league club, Morgan batted .347 in the 34 games he played following his Aug. 19 callup. The speedy outfielder reached base safely in 25 of his 27 starts and accumulated the fourth-best average in the National League (.360) since Aug. 20.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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