(CBS/AP) In a city where major league baseball is about as popular as jai alai, Marlins' outfielder Logan Morrison has been a breath of fresh air.
He's a charismatic 23-year-old who not only hits well but is also a hit with fans - especially on Twitter, where he boasts 60,000 followers (or roughly triple the attendance of the last Marlins home game).
So it came as a shock when, on Saturday, the team demoted Morrison to Triple-A New Orleans. And if you ask Morrison's agent, the player wasn't sent down because of what he did on the field.
"We are going to, with absolute certainty, explore this and contact the union and make sure Logan's rights are protected,'' Fred Wray, Morrison's agent, told the Palm Beach Post. "It doesn't seem like everything adds up here.''
Indeed, Morrison's numbers are pretty impressive for a player in his first full season in the big leagues. While his average had slipped to .249, he ranked second on the team with 17 homeruns and he's knocked in 60 runs.
So what's going on here? As CBSSports.com's Evan Brunell notes, "the demotion smacks of something more," with Morrison admitting as much and GM Larry Beinfest cryptically alluding to Morrison's off-the-field behavior.
"We just thought it was in the best interests of Logan to go down and concentrate on baseball and all aspects of being a major leaguer, and work his way back," Beinfest said Sunday.
Beinfest is perhaps referencing the increasing friction between Morrison and the front office, starting with his Twitter account which he has embraced wholeheartedly to the chagrin of the front office. He also spoke out against the firing of hitting coach John Mallee in early June.
But the tip of the iceberg, as Brunell notes, could have been when Morrison opted not to attend a meet-and-greet with season-ticket holders Saturday after attending an autographing event that ran long earlier in the day. Morrison did apologize (on Twitter, of course) for not attending the event, but the damage had already been done - at least in the eyes of the front office.
Beinfest and manager Jack McKeon declined to say what prompted the decision to send Morrison to the minors. But McKeon often talks of how young players should be seen and not heard while they earn the right to remain in the big leagues, and he's not a fan of Twitter.
"You've got to leave your distractions at the door," McKeon said. "Too many young guys come into the game today and think they've got it made. They're the darlings of the media and they want to run their mouth instead of tending to business. The record books are full of one- and two-year phenoms."
Perhaps the 80-year-old McKeon was miffed at being the target of one of Morrison's Twitter wisecracks earlier in the season. Morrison posted this anecdote in June:
"Jack McKeon asked me what I had going on tonite. Told him I was going home 2 play w/ Twitter. He replied 'oh, what kind of dog is it?'"
Morrison and his agent said they didn't think tweeting was a reason for the demotion. But as far back as May, team president David Samson expressed reservations about Morrison's Twitter material, some of it R-rated.
"I've told Logan," Samson said then, "no one will care about his tweets if they're coming from New Orleans."
As for Morrison, he tweeted this message early Sunday: "A bend in the road isnt the end of the road...unless u fail 2 make the turn."
For the next 15 hours after that, his Twitter account was silent. But don't expect that to last long - or Morrison's demotion.