The characterization of Justin Morneau’s status hasn’t changed: a couple of weeks ago Bill Smith said the team as “optimistic” about him, and yesterday he said the same thing. But there is reason to be a little more optimistic today than we were before, because Smith now says that Morneau should be swinging a bat by the first of February.
Maybe I’m just reading too much into this, but earlier assessments had the optimism being about going to work by the time spring training rolls around. If he’s swinging a bat two weeks before pitchers and catchers report, however, perhaps he’ll he’ll be at or near full speed by then as opposed to merely present and accounted for.
This might just be splitting hairs, but there are few teams with as unsettled a situation with an important piece as the Twins are with Morneau, so a little word-parsing is justified.
Pirates first baseman John Jaso hit for the cycle on Wednesday night against the Cubs, becoming the first Pirate to do so since Daryl Ward against the Cardinals on May 26, 2004. It’s the third cycle of the 2016 season, as Jaso joins Freddie Freeman and Rajai Davis.
Jaso singled in the second inning for his first hit. He smashed a three-run homer in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. He hit an RBI double in the fifth to push the Cubs’ lead to 5-1. Then, in the seventh, Jaso hit an RBI triple to make it an 8-4 game.
Coming into Wednesday night, Jaso was hitting an adequate .259/.342/.384 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 416 plate appearances. He’s been limited mostly to right-handed pitching as the Pirates have used David Freese and Josh Bell at the position as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games with a single to center field in the bottom of the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s win against the Phillies. Prior to that at-bat, he had grounded out, been hit by a pitch, and walked.
Freeman entered Wednesday night batting .382/.477/.673 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 24 runs scored over his past 29 games. Though his numbers are lacking compared to National League MVP Award favorite Kris Bryant, Freeman will get some top-five votes. On the season, he entered Wednesday hitting .307/.404/.576 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, and 99 runs scored in 673 plate appearances.
Freeman’s 30-game hitting streak is the longest such streak in the majors this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. He has also reached base safely in 46 consecutive games.