Logan Morrison's season began in the most nightmarish fashion possible, with his average at .094 as late as May 1. He rebounded enough to actually surpass his sub-par 2015 Seattle numbers, slashing .238/.319/.414 before heading to the DL in mid-September and subsequently undergoing wrist surgery. He'd been in Tampa on a one-year deal and thus officially became a free agent on Nov. 3. The veteran rebounded sufficiently to tally 14 home runs, 43 RBI and 33 extra-base hits overall, while posting his second-best slugging percentage (.414) since 2011. However, he saw an alarming bump in strikeout rate to 22.4 percent and a drop in contact rate to a career-low 75 percent. He's certainly proven capable of offering solid returns in the areas of extra-base hits, homers, RBI and walks in past seasons, and he'll get another crack to prove his worth as the Rays' starting first baseman in 2017.
Morrison is a candidate to be part of a leadoff platoon this coming season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "We're trying to narrow (it down),'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't think we have, as it stands right now, a defined leadoff guy. We're trying a couple different options. ... We're still trying to work through do we have a guy versus left and a guy versus right." Morrison is apparently a contender for the left-handed side of the platoon, with Corey Dickerson also under consideration. Potentially working against the veteran is his track record in April, a month in which he's slashed .157/.199/.196 over the last three seasons and .223/.291/.331 for his career. The 29-year-old would bring a solid power component to the top of the order but hasn't notched an OBP over .315 in any of the last three campaigns.
Morrison, who went 1-for-3 in Sunday's 8-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Blue Jays, reported that his surgically-repaired wrist was no worse for wear after playing what was his first game in the field this spring, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. "Everything was good with the wrist," said Morrison after playing five innings Sunday. "The legs are a little tired, but other than that, I'm good. Is [the wrist] 100 percent? No," he said. "But it's something that's gradually getting better. You just have to manage it." The veteran had served exclusively as a DH in an exhibition against Team Colombia last Wednesday but was deemed ready to test out his wrist at first base Sunday. While Morrison reported still feeling pain on certain throws, he also described the wrist as "much better than it was." Morrison notably hit leadoff Sunday, as manager Kevin Cash remains undecided as to who will be deployed in that role come the regular season. Factoring in Sunday's single, he's 2-for-5 with a double, walk and two runs over his first five at-bats this spring.
Morrison, who's yet to play this spring following September wrist surgery, is set to make his debut in Wednesday night's game versus Team Columbia, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The veteran first baseman is expected to be deployed as the DH on Wednesday and then play in the field later in the week. After re-signing with Tampa on a one-year, $2.5 million deal in early February, Morrison will look to build momentum towards a much better April than last season's, when he slashed an unsightly .100/.133/.156 with no homers or RBI in what was his first month in a Rays uniform.
Morrison, who started his Rays career last season with a .100/.133/.156 line with no homers or RBI in April, is looking to build on his second-half momentum from last season to open the 2017 campaign, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. "Take out April and I was pretty good," said Morrison, who arrived to camp on Thursday. "But I was pretty bad in April. Long season, but hopefully I can be as consistent as I was in the second half, even May on, and stay healthy." The veteran first baseman, who re-signed with the Rays on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Feb. 7, has traditionally struggled in the opening month of the season throughout his seven-year career, but 2016 was on a level all its own. Morrison went hitless over his first four games, tallied just six hits in 60 at-bats over the month, and whiffed 25 times, striking out at least once in 17 of the 18 games he registered one or more at-bats in. The 29-year-old bounced back from the historically bad start to finish with a .238/.319/.414 line with 18 doubles, one triple, 14 homers and 43 RBI, with particularly strong performances in May and September. However, the latter month was curtailed by season-ending wrist injury that ended up requiring offseason surgery. Morrison's exact role in the coming season is likely to still be sorted out in spring training, as the Rays still have to determine how they will deploy Brad Miller in the field. However, one thing that is for certain is the fortitude of Morrison's surgically-repaired wrist, which he confirms "feels good." "We'll see how they'll want to progress me, whatever," Morrison said. "But I feel ready to go. ... It's up to [the Rays if I'll need extra time to get ready] and the training staff. But guys play with this surgery three months out, and I'm 4 1/2 to 5, so I should be fine."
Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom said that Morrison (wrist) "will be ready for Opening Day or soon after," Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The veteran first baseman underwent wrist surgery in October, but he seems to be recovering at a decent pace to play the bulk of the regular season. Morrison struggled significantly for a good chunk of 2016, but he picked things up in the second half to reclaim his spot as the Rays' starter at first base. Once he's fully healthy, he should be a regular in the lineup, but expectations for him should be tempered until he proves to be fully healthy (and back to his previous promising form at the plate).