Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan is known for his many aliases, but mostfolks don’t know Morgan had a brief hockey career — making it all the way to the Western Hockey League — before turning his attention to baseball full time.
So when Morgan, a Bay Area native, takes to the ice Wednesday for a practice with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, he’ll feel right at home in more ways than one.
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“I’m really excited to get on the ice with the team,” Morgan told the Sharks’ team website. “I’ve been a die-hard fan since the team came to San Jose in 1991. I will never forget the George Kingston and Patty Falloon days. I’m not sure the guys are ready for me.”
Turns out, though, the guys are more than ready — in fact, they invited him.
“We’re excited to see what he can do out here,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton told the website. “We knew he had a hockey background, and when we saw him on ‘Jim Rome’ wearing our sweater, we wanted to invite him to get on the ice with us.”
On Sunday, Morgan, 31, signed autographs at the Brewers’ winter fan event and talked about toning down some of his antics and maybe limiting his multiple personalities this season, but he was clearly joking. Seems that getting on the ice Wednesday will be just the beginning of his 2012 adventures.
“I guess maybe I’ll be a little more professional,” Morgan said, using a mocking tone. “I’ll clean it up, I guess.”
It appears Morgan, at least, has cleared this particular escapade ahead of time with the Brewers. Last offseason,star Milwaukee pitcher Zack Greinke broke his rib playing pickup basketball and couldn’t start the season on time. The Brewers aren’t thrilled Morgan is playing hockey, but they trust his judgment.
“In the perfect world, he should not be skating or involved in a competitive practice, but he does not need our approval,” Milwaukee assistant GM Gord Ash said Tuesday. “He does not have a guaranteed contract, and he does risk his salary if he were injured significantly — with a broken leg, etc. — and could not play.
“Given his background and hockey abilities, I don’t believe it’s an issue. As he told me, ‘I am an athlete, and nothing will happen.’ “