Tag:Justin Morneau
Posted on: September 17, 2011 11:29 am

Yanks' Cervelli may not be available for playoffs

Francisco CervelliBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yankees backup catcher Francisco Cervelli may not be ready for the playoffs, manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Friday. Cervelli suffered a concussion on Sept. 8 and hasn't played since. Cervelli is scheduled to visit a neurologist next week.

"I think you have to prepare that he won't be (available) only because it's so unpredictable," Girardi told reporters (via New York Daily News). "That's what's so scary because we've seen so many guys miss so much time with them, and they're still missing time. I heard (Justin) Morneau talking about when he dove for a ball at first base, the concussion symptoms came back. You just don't know what's going to happen."

Francisco CervelliIf Cervelli's unable to play in the first round of the playoffs, the Yankees will have to make a choice between two rookies to backup Russell Martin. Austin Romaine is the better defensive catcher of the two rookies, but Jesus Montero has the more potent bat. The two have combined for just 18 big-league innings behind the plate and one start apiece.

Montero, 21, is hitting .286/.359/.571 with three homers and six RBI in 39 plate appearances spanning 10 games (mostly as a DH), while Romine has one hit in four plate appearances in two games. He replaced Montero for the final three innings of Montero's one start behind the plate.

The Yankees, of course, still have Jorge Posada, who can catch, but he's logged just as many innings behind the plate as Montero this season (6), and manager Joe Girardi isn't a huge fan of Posada's skills behind the plate. If he's used as the DH, the Yankees would lost the DH if Martin were to leave a game with injury and he was the only backup.

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 4:57 pm

Latest concussion a concern for Morneau, Twins

By C. Trent Rosecrans

While football and hockey are putting a renewed emphasis on safety in light of the rising concern over concussions, baseball's not immune to head injuries just because it's a so-called "non-contact" sport.

The poster boy for concussions in baseball may end up being former MVP Justin Morneau, who missed the second half of last season after suffering a concussion on a play at second base when he took a knee to the head while trying to break up a double play. But that may not be the play that defines Morneau's struggles with concussions. Instead, it could be the concussion he suffered on Aug. 28. The play didn't look anything out of the ordinary -- a first baseman diving after a ball happens all the time. The results don't.

Morneau said he believes he suffered a new concussion in the second inning of the Aug. 28 game at Target Field when he dove for what ended up as a double for Alex Avila. He finished that game, but hasn't played since.

There's plenty we don't know about concussions, but one thing we do know is that once you suffer one, you're more susceptible to more. And that could be the problem for Morneau.

"It's definitely something that concerns me," Morneau told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I mean, that's not normal. You see guys dive all the time. You see guys run full speed into the wall, and they're all right after that."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told the newspaper that he doesn't expect Morenau to play again this season, and if he does, it will be as a DH.

"He hit the ground pretty hard, and it definitely didn't help matters with him," Gardenhire said. "There's always concern. As I've said all along, we don't know enough about this concussion thing … I'm just hoping we can get past these things over the winter, and get into next year and maybe they'll be a thing of the past."

That's a huge hope -- and one that may not have much backing other than just hope.

Last season when John McDonlad's knee hit Morneau in the head, he was having another MVP-type season. He was hitting .345/.437/.618 with 18 homers and 56 RBI in 81 games. A full offseason didn't have him ready to return immediately to the field, as he missed some of spring training. He was there for opening day, but in 2011 he wasn't the same player he'd been before the injury, hitting just .227/.285/.333 with four homers and 30 RBI in 69 games.

MLB added a seven-day disabled list for those diagnosed with concussions and it's been a good first step. But we still don't know near enough to really understand the problem or how to combat it -- for now, vigilance and awareness are the two things that can be done and need to be expanded on by players and management. There's still a lot of ignorance out there about the problem -- just read any entry here on Morneau or concussions and you'll see comments from people telling them to "man up" or "get over it," implying that if no bone is broken, it's not a real injury and players should be on the field.  That type of fundamental misunderstand of concussions is what many health providers are fighting against. The bottom line is a concussion is a legitimate brain injury -- there's no such thing as a "minor" brain injury and anyone who questions the toughness of a player with such an injury aren't using that organ.

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 10:00 am

Pepper: Concussion continues to haunt Morneau

Justin Morneau

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Justin Morneau said the concussion symptoms that will keep him out until at least Friday are "nothing like" what he went through last year, and I'm sure that's true.

But the fact that Morenau began experiencing those symptoms (a headache and fogginess) on Monday and still had the remnants of the symptoms on Tuesday are scary. There's so little we know about concussions, there's little understanding of how our brains react to being move inside its casing and how long it can affect a human.

Morneau has had plenty of other problems this season, but until this week concussions hadn't been part of his problem -- or at least that we know. That's the thing with concussions, there's so much we don't know and we may never know. Science is a wonderful thing, but it takes time. 

What is impressive is how the Twins have handled this -- they didn't rush Morneau back last season when they could have used him and they're taking all precautions this season. I hope this doesn't last the rest of Morneau's career, but I think it'd hardly be a surprise if it did.

There was a lot of attention to concussions last year in the NFL season, but this isn't just a football problem or even just a sports problem, it's a medical problem that we should all take a lot of interest in and make sure we understand as much as possible. Those who say it's just "ringing a bell" and players need to be "tougher" are just ignorant and it's a mindset that must be changed. [Star Tribune]

Game-changer: Technology isn't just great for fans -- the players are using technology in many ways to improve their games. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark takes an in-depth look at the way baseball is using technology, from iPads to using stats to predict pitching patterns. It's well worth the read.

Elite company: Marlins right-hander Javier Vazquez became the 30th pitch in major-league history to record 2,500 strikeouts in Tuesday's game victory over the Mets. [Miami Herald]

Rehab updates: Grady Sizemore will start his rehab assignment on Wednesday [MLB.com], while Boston's Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew started their rehab assignments on Tuesday -- Drew went 3 for 3 and Youkilis went 1 for 4 with a walk and reached on an error. [Dan Hoard]

Price of success: Remember Pirate Fever earlier this summer? Well, Pittsburgh fans are going to pay for it as the team is raising its prices for 2012. That said, the increase is modest from an average of $15.30 to $16.11 per ticket. The Pirates had the lowest average ticket price in baseball (in one of the best settings) for 2011 and will still be close, if not at, the bottom next season. The Pirates hadn't raised prices in a decade. The Pirates said most tickets would stay the same, decrease or increase by $3 or less. The dugout box seats will be raised by $5 -- but only $2 more than they were in 2002. [Pittsburgh Tribube-Review]

Favorite things: The Tigers wives put together auction gift baskets filled with players' favorite things every year, and you can learn a lot about some of baseball's best -- like Justin Verlander likes crappy food and crappy movies, Ryan Raburn loves killin' stuff, why Daniel Schlereth smells funny and that Phil Coke uses "liquid titanium massage lotion." [H/T MLive.com]

R and RBI: Curtis Granderson is leading the big leagues in both runs and RBI -- a feat that has been done just 19 times before, six times by Babe Ruth. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Wakefield pushed back: Tim Wakefield's seemingly never-ending search for his 200th win will be delayed a bit, as Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the knuckleballer that he's skipping his turn in the rotation for a turn. Andrew Miller will start Friday against Texas instead of Wakefield. Wakefield is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA in seven starts since his winning No. 199. [Boston Globe]

Call ups: The clubhouse at Great American Ball Park could get pretty crowded. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said "quite a few" players will get called up when the rosters expand. The most heralded is catcher Devin Mesoraco, who Evan wrote about Tuesday. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

In-flight entertainment: You may be able to watch baseball games live on your phone on a flight. [Los Angeles Times]

Father-son show: Former Met Howard Johnson, 50, will play alongside his son, Glen, for the independent Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League on Sunday and Monday. [New York Daily News]

Cool card: Check out these awesome baseball cards fans got when they went to a My Morning Jacket concert in Philadelphia last week. Very, very cool. [UniWatch Blog]

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:41 pm

Morneau activated from DL

Justin MorneauBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Not only is Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo coming back tonight in Cleveland, the Twins will have former MVP Justin Morneau back for the start of the three-game series at Progressive Field.

Morneau has been reinstated from the disabled list for tonight's game. Morneau has been on the DL since June 14 with a left wrist strain, but after being put on the DL, he had surgery to remove a herniated disc fragment in his neck. Morneau played seven rehab games for Triple-A Rochester, going .367/.387/.600 in 31 plate appearances with a home runs and four doubles.

Morenau has played in 55 games for the Twins this season, hitting .225/.281/.338 with four home runs after missing the second half of 2010 with complications following a concussion.

To make room for Morneau, the team placed outfielder Jason Repko on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder bursitis, retroactive to Thursday.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 9:46 pm

Morneau to return Friday

By Matt Snyder

Twins All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau will return to the lineup Friday, manager Ron Gardenhire told the press before his club's Wednesday night game (MLB.com). Morneau had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disc fragment in his neck June 29 and wasn't expected back before Monday at the earliest. He's hitting the ball well for Triple-A Rochester (.409, five RBI in five games), which may have spurred the move. He'll still play two more games for Rochester before joining the Twins Friday for a series against the Indians. Quick Update: Morneau hit a home run Wednesday night for Rochester.

Morneau, 30, missed half of last season with lingering symptoms from a bad concussion and has been plagued by injuries again this season. When healthy, he was one of the best hitters in the league. He's a four-time All-Star with one MVP and one runner-up finish in MVP voting. He was hitting .355 with a 1.055 OPS before his injury in 2010. This year, however, his triple slash line is .225/.281/.338.

An interesting note on the Twins' injury misfortune this season: Morneau and All-Star catcher Joe Mauer have only been in the lineup together eight times in 117 games (Twinsbaseball.com). That has a little something to do with the Twins being more than 10 games out in the second week of August.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 2:47 pm

Pepper: About those wins, losses

By Matt Snyder

One of the things I find most lame in the world of baseball writing is how there's a huge fight between those who love sabermetrics and those who oppose it as if it's the worst thing in the history of mankind. Accusations are hurled in each direction, whether it's a "mother's basement" insult or an insinuation that the other party is a moron. I try to not get involved, as I believe there's merit to different things on both sides, but one area where I feel strongly is that using wins and losses to judge pitchers is stupid.

Example number infinity happened last night during the Cubs-Marlins game. Matt Garza threw seven shutout innings, but Carlos Marmol was deplorable in the ninth (zero IP, five earned runs). The Cubs lost. So Garza didn't get the win.

I just have a question for the people who like to puff their chests out and use the "mother's basement" term on people who don't like using wins and losses: Where does Bob Brenly live? The Cubs' color man, who was an All-Star catcher and has a World Series ring from a managerial stint, said, "win-loss record is not a good way to judge a pitcher" once Marmol blew the game.

FIGHTING DEPRESSION: Mets reliever Taylor Buchholz is suffering from what seems like a very serious case of depression. He's likely to miss the entire season and things do not sound good (Springfield Patch).

EXPENSIVE MIDDLE RELIEVER: The Yankees spent a pretty penny ($35 million over three years) this offseason to bring Rafael Soriano in as their eighth-inning man. What they've gotten in return is a 5.40 ERA, an attitude the New York media has questioned and a long stint on the DL. In the meantime, David Robertson has excelled, even making the All-Star team. Soriano is close to coming back now, but what will his role be? We don't know, because Yankees' skipper Joe Girardi wouldn't say. It does feel unlikely the Yankees immediately promote him past Robertson, though. (NJ.com)

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? Cubs manager Mike Quade had to fly commercially after the All-Star Game and he must have looked suspicious. He was retained for 40 minutes by TSA and given a full-fledged pat-down. Quade said he didn't tell the officials who he was, but hoped they would ask. (Chicago Tribune)

WORKING IT: Royals first round pick Bubba Starling is committed to playing football for Nebraska and the negotiations with the Royals are ongoing. Reportedly, Starling is likely to sign with the Royals eventually, but he's really working his bluff, as he's attending voluntary workouts with Nebraska. For what it's worth, the Royals don't seem bothered by it. (Fox Sports KC)

15 MINUTES: Apparently all you have to do to get a short run at quasi-fame these days is be an idiot. (Arizona Republic)

NO MO WILY MO? One of the more entertaining players in the majors has to be Wily Mo Pena. He's hit five home runs in just 46 at-bats, but he also has 19 strikeouts with nary a walk. But he's about to be designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks, who will activate Geoff Blum from the DL. Brandon Allen will also be added to the roster while Juan Miranda is demoted to Triple-A. What about prospect Paul Goldschmidt? Nick Piecoro examines the issue (Arizona Republic).

THE PRICE IS RIGHT: Rays pitcher David Price was initially upset about giving up Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit -- which was also a home run, as we all know. Evidently, Price is over it, as he's now agreed to a deal to autograph items, such as baseballs, "I gave up DJ's 3K." (Tampabay.com)

BACK ON HIS FEET: Just a few weeks from walking away from the Nationals' managing gig, Jim Riggleman now has a job with the Giants as a special assignment scout. (Extra Baggs)

THERE SHE BLOWS: A minor-league game was postponed when heavy winds blew the outfield wall down at Lake Olmstead Stadium, home of the Augusta GreenJackets. It was reportedly a 50-foot section of an 18-foot high wall. (Augusta Chronicle)

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: There were tons of scouts in the building to watch Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez Thursday. Upwards of 17 teams, that is (Fox Sports). And he's not going anywhere. The Rockies will have to be absolutely bowled over to cough him up, especially since he's relatively cheap for the next few years.

MORNEAU, ROBERTS PROGRESSING: Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has been cleared to resume baseball activities (MLB.com). Meanwhile, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has been allowed to increase his workload as he attempts to return from a concussion (MLB.com).

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:18 pm

Joey Votto, Canadian hero

By C. Trent Rosecrans

PHOENIX -- Last year Joey Votto was the winner of the "Final Vote" and only had three days to prepare for his first All-Star Game. This year the reigning National League MVP was voted in by his peers and enjoying his second All-Star appearance.

At the All-Star Game in Phoenix on Monday, Votto talked about being the face of Canadian baseball, his friendship with fellow Canadian Justin Morneau and watching teammate Jay Bruce enjoy his first All-Star appearance.

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Posted on: June 27, 2011 5:10 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 6:27 pm

Mauer works out at first base

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe MauerTwins catcher Joe Mauer has played in just 18 games so far this season, heating up the debate of whether he needs to move out from behind the plate and to another position in order to prolong his career and maximize his value to the Twins, who have him signed through 2018.

Manager Ron Gardenhire has repeatedly said the team had no plans on moving  Mauer from catcher. Those plans may have changed.

With Justin Morneau out until August with a neck injury, Mauer took grounders at first base before Monday's game against the Dodgers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III reports. Mauer is in the lineup tonight, but catching. 

Before the game, Mauer said learning a new position won't be "an overnight thing," but he is hoping to play first soon.

"I'm going to do everything I can to get ready as quick as I can," Mauer told Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). 

Mauer has never played a position other than catcher or designated hitter since coming to the big leagues in 2004. Mauer went on the disabled list in April with what the team called "bilateral leg weakness," a condition that it seems wouldn't be helped by the physical demands of catching. Since returning to the Twins on June 17, Mauer is hitting just .161/.188/.194 without a home run.

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