Justin Morneau was cleared to resume workouts earlier this week, but the encouraging news doesn’t end there.
At the team’s winter coat drive at Target Field earlier today, Morneau told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he expects to be ready for spring training.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind. I’ll be ready for spring.”
Morneau suffered a concussion on July 7 after taking a knee to the head on a slide into second base and missed the final three months of the regular season and the playoffs as a result. He was batting .345/.437/.618 with 18 homers, 56 RBI and a 1.055 OPS at the time of the injury.
It’s easy to wonder what could have been, but the team’s offense was still pretty darn good without him during the second half of the season. They were second in the American League in runs, hits, doubles, batting average and on-base percentage, third in OPS and fourth in slugging percentage. Still, getting Morneau back at (hopefully) full strength is akin to a big money free agent signing.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.