Tag:Justin Morneau
Posted on: August 12, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: August 12, 2011 10:41 am
 

Indians activate Choo from DL

Shin-Soo Choo, out since late June with a broken thumb, returns to the Indians lineup Friday night, a few days sooner than expected.

Choo made two minor-league rehab appearances at Class A Lake County, going 0-for-6.

If Choo can hit the way he did last year (.300 with 22 home runs, 90 RBI and an .885 OPS), he could give the Indians a big boost as they chase the Tigers in the American League Central. But Choo struggled this year, hitting just .244 with 28 RBI in 72 games before his injury.

After taking two of three from the Tigers this week, Cleveland is three games behind Detroit with 47 games to play.

To make room for Choo on the roster, the Indians designated Austin Kearns for assignment.
The Indians host the Twins this weekend. Minnesota will get Justin Morneau back from the DL on Friday.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Twins going for it, want to add reliever

Twice in the last five years, the Twins have won the American League Central after trailing by six games in September.

So yes, they think they can win when they're down by five games in late July.

In fact, according to sources, the Twins' recent run of success has caused them to shift their trade-deadline focus, to the point where they're now looking for a reliever who they could team with Matt Capps and Joe Nathan at the back of their bullpen.

The Twins are still five games under .500, heading into a weekend series with the Tigers that begins with Carl Pavano facing Justin Verlander on Thursday night. They've won 29 of the last 43, after falling to 20 games under .500 and 16 1/2 games out of first place on June 1.

With Justin Morneau on the way back from the disabled list, the Twins now believe the division is winnable.

"They always believe they ought to be in the pennant race," said ex-Twin Nick Punto, now with the Cardinals. "Definitely don't count them out."


For more trade deadline news, click here.
Posted on: April 21, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 10:41 pm
 

Bay returns from ribcage injury -- and concussion

NEW YORK -- Jason Bay spent the first three weeks on the disabled list because of strained left ribcage.

But really, he's still coming back from the concussion that ended his 2010 season.

For that matter, he's also trying to come back from a hugely disappointing first year with the Mets.

"I feel like I'm better," Bay said Thursday, before playing his first major-league game since last July 25. "Before the concussion, I wasn't playing that great. I feel like I'm better than that guy."

The Mets, who signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract, would certainly hope he is. In his first four months as a Met, Bay played in 95 games and hit just six home runs.

Citi Field isn't an easy place to hit home runs, but Bay actually homered at a better rate there (three in 159 at-bats) than on the road (three in 189 at-bats).

Bay didn't hit any home runs this spring, but he did hit two in 12 at-bats in his rehabilitation assignment with Class A St. Lucie.

He went 1-for-4 Thursday night, in the Mets' 9-1 win over the Astros, but the one hit was a pop-fly double that landed just inside the right-field foul line.

It's hard to know what affect Bay's concussion will have on his baseball skills. Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, also coming back from a concussion, is hitting .208 with no home runs in 53 at-bats this year.

But what has happened with Morneau isn't necessarily relevant.

"Every concussion is different," Bay said. "That's one thing I've learned."

Twins general manager Bill Smith said the same thing earlier this month when talking about Morneau.

"What he had is a very slow healing concussion," Smith said. "As the doctor told me, there are 30 different kinds of knee surgeries, so why would you think there's only one kind of concussion?"


Category: MLB
Posted on: March 19, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Mauer catches, Morneau swings, and Twins hope

FORT MYERS, Fla. –- In the stadium, with a sellout crowd watching, Joe Mauer was catching in a major-league game for the first time this spring.

On a back field, with a couple dozen fans watching, Justin Morneau was getting one at-bat an inning against some Red Sox minor leaguers.

And Twins manager Ron Gardenhire? He was on the back field Saturday, with Morneau.

Given a choice of watching his All-Star catcher (recovering from knee surgery) or his All-Star first baseman (recovering from a concussion), Gardenhire chose the first baseman, which only confirms what a Twins person said the day before.

The Twins aren’t overly concerned about Mauer, who caught five innings Saturday. They still aren’t sure about Morneau.

“Mauer’s fine,” the Twins person said. “Morneau’s the one to worry about.”

That might be something of an exaggeration, on both counts. Mauer does seem to be fine, but he suggested Saturday that he may need extra days off in April. Morneau is still a concern, but he was able to play a day game after a night game (a significant step), and some Twins people said that it’s now his bat they’re worried about, more than how he deals with coming back from the concussion.

“When you see him, he looks good,” closer Joe Nathan said. “It’s not about, ‘How’s my head?’ It’s ‘How’s my swing?’”

Morneau is 0-for-10 in major-league games this spring, and while he went 2-for-4 on the back field Saturday, the two hits were ground-ball singles.

“He felt great,” said Gardenhire. “We’re just trying to get him ready.”

Gardenhire admitted that Morneau’s schedule is still dictated in large part by the doctors who have been treating him since he suffered the concussion last July.

Mauer’s schedule has also been the subject of some chatter in Twins camp, with some people saying his delayed appearance in games was a way to save wear on his legs. But Mauer said Saturday that he would have played earlier if he could have.

“I needed the time,” he said.

He also said that “everything’s going as planned,” but followed that up by suggesting that he may not catch as often as usual in the first month of the season. The Twins are scheduled to play on 23 of the first 24 days, beginning with their April 1 opener at Toronto.

Gardenhire joked that with the time Mauer has missed this spring, “He should be fresh.”

It is worth remembering that Mauer missed all of April in 2009, and still won the American League’s MVP award and led the Twins to the playoffs. It’s also worth remembering that the Twins played very well during time Morneau missed with injuries the last two years.

But you’d rather have them playing than not playing, even in March.

“They’re playing now, and that’s all I wanted to do, was get them on the field,” Gardenhire said. “I’m a happy camper.”

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Twins confident about Morneau

JUPITER, Fla. -- Friday, Justin Morneau played in his first official spring training game .

Saturday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said confidentlly that he expects Morneau to play on opening day, too.

"He'll get plenty of at-bats [in spring training]," Gardenhire said. "He'll be ready."

Morneau didn't play at all after suffering a concussion on July 7 last year, and the Twins have held him back early in spring training. He's scheduled to play again for the Twins on Sunday in Fort Myers against the Phillies.

"The doctors made up a good schedule for him, the same one he would have made for himself -- no road games," Gardenhire said with a chuckle. "Right now, he's still on the doctors' program. In a while, he'll be on my program."

The Twins have some uncertainty about many of their best players. Joe Mauer caught a bullpen Saturday morning in Fort Myers, but he has yet to catch in a game. Michael Cuddyer has also been slowed, and closer Joe Nathan is coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Right now, though, the Twins seem confident that all of those players will be ready for opening day. Including Justin Morneau.

Posted on: February 1, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 5:19 pm
 

Twins still can't be sure about Morneau

When I was in Minnesota last August, I watched Justin Morneau bash balls out of the park in batting practice, and I wanted to know how soon he'd be back in the lineup.

The Twins couldn't tell me.

Now it's February, and I want to know when Justin Morneau will be back in the Twins lineup.

And the Twins still can't tell me.

"I have April 1 circled," general manager Bill Smith said Tuesday. "That's the day we're targeting."

That's opening day, and that sounds good.

But Smith also said that Morneau, who suffered a concussion last July, has not begun any baseball activities this winter. He called him "a work in progress," and he wouldn't come close to guaranteeing an opening day return for his All-Star first baseman.

"We have pledged patience, and we only want him to go when he's ready," Smith said. "If that's March 1, April 1 or July 1, that's what it will be. We only want him to go through this one time. We don't want this to become a roller coaster."

The Twins kept Morneau away from their fanfest over the weekend, a decision Smith said he made simply because he didn't want to do anything that might interrupt Morneau's workout regime. But that decision, and their strong interest in re-signing Thome, can also be taken as an indication of their uncertainty about Morneau's return (or about his return date, anyway).

It's understandable. From Morneau to Jason Bay, we know that baseball is still learning about concussions.

But it also leaves me wondering about whether the Twins got better this winter.

The White Sox did. The Tigers did.

The Twins? They kept Carl Pavano, and they kept Jim Thome, And if Morneau (who missed half of last season) and closer Joe Nathan (who missed the entire season after Tommy John surgery) both return, then Minnesota did improve.

If not, maybe not.

The news on Nathan is very encouraging. Smith said that not only is Nathan already throwing bullpens, but this past weekend he even started to throw breaking balls.

"He's very upbeat," Smith said. "That would be a huge boost to get him back, with him and Matt Capps late in games."

Agreed.

But when I was talking to another Twins person last week, he was asking the question of whether they'd improved to the point where they could finally beat the Yankees in the playoffs (assuming both get there). His answer was that when the Twins lost to the Yankees the last two Octobers, they didn't have Morneau either time.

They did great during the regular-season time Morneau missed in 2009, and again last year.

But to really believe in the Twins, you've got to believe Morneau will be back in the lineup.

And the Twins still can't tell me for sure when that will be.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 17, 2010 5:11 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2010 5:23 pm
 

White Sox closer Jenks avoids DL

MINNEAPOLIS -- White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, who missed the weekend series against the Tigers with a sore back, threw in the bullpen Tuesday afternoon at Target Field and said that he will be available to pitch starting with Wednesday night's game against the Twins.

"I'm good to go," Jenks said.

In Jenks' absence, the White Sox lost two of three to the Tigers with fill-in closer J.J. Putz suffering both losses.

Jenks said that he had felt a constant tightness in his back, "like a cramp that wouldn't release."

Also Tuesday Twins first baseman Justin Morneau took batting practice on the field. Morneau, who is trying to come back from a concussion, didn't sound encouraged.

"It feels good when I wake up in the morning," Morneau said. "As the day goes on, it doesn't feel as good." 

It's still uncertain when or whether Morneau will return this season.
Posted on: July 16, 2010 10:33 am
 

3 to watch: The Boss and the Rays edition

This time, the schedule-maker got it right.

On the night the Yankees honor George Steinbrenner, baseball gives us Yankees vs. Rays. In the first game the Yankees will play since Steinbrenner's death on Tuesday morning, the Yankees will play the team that Steinbrenner always insisted they beat.

Yes, of course, he insisted they beat every team. Yes, of course, the series with the Red Sox and the series with the Mets always held special relevance to him.

But so did the series with the Rays, even back when they were the awful Devil Rays. Even when it was a solitary meaningless game in spring training.

Tampa was Steinbrenner's adopted hometown. Tampa was where he spent most of his time. He was not going to have his Yankees lose to any team from Tampa (or even St. Petersburg).

Yankees-Rays games are no longer meaningless. The teams enter the second half of the season separated by just two games in the American League East standings, with the Red Sox and the AL Central contenders close enough behind so that a wild-card berth isn't guaranteed to the team that fails to finish first.

The Yankees and Rays will meet 13 times during the second half. And the first meeting kicks off this first post-All-Star edition of 3 to watch:

1. In other places, you can argue about Steinbrenner's legacy. In the Bronx, especially in the moments leading up to Rays at Yankees, Friday night (7:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium , you can be sure the focus will be on the championships won and the successes celebrated. The Yankees will have a double-tribute, honoring both Steinbrenner and longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard, but they've pushed the video tribute to Sheppard to Saturday (which is also Old-Timer's Day). Friday's ceremony will concentrate on Steinbrenner -- who, if he were still here, would be concentrating intensely on Friday's game.

2. Sometime just after Stephen Strasburg's stunning debut, I vowed to include every Strasburg start in 3 to watch, until further notice. It doesn't feel right to end it just yet, not so soon after an All-Star Game that judging by the low ratings could have used Strasburg's star power. Instead, Strasburg will try to awaken a little baseball interest in South Florida, in Nationals at Marlins, Friday night (7:10 EDT) at Sun Life Stadium .

3. When Justin Morneau went on the disabled list last September, it was supposed to mean the end of the Twins. Instead, they went 17-4 in the 21 games he missed, including the memorable Game 163 win over the Tigers that sent them into the playoffs. Now Morneau is out again, on the DL while recovering from a concussion suffered on July 7 in Toronto. The Twins fell into third place the day Morneau was hurt. They're 1-4 since then, more because of poor pitching than because of the Morneau-less offense. The one win came from Carl Pavano, who starts again, in White Sox at Twins, Saturday night (7:10 EDT) at Target Field .
 
 
 
 
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