Justin Morneau arrived at Twins camp today and spoke to reporters about his health status, telling them he’s made significant progress in recent weeks but remains less than 100 percent recovered nearly eight months after suffering a concussion on July 7.
Doctors have cleared Morneau to fully participate in all workouts, but he’s yet to face live pitching and won’t be in the lineup when the Twins’ exhibition schedule begins, saying “we’ll find out over the next week or so” what his timetable is for game action
Morneau explained that the fogginess he felt following workouts has finally dissipated, but added “it’s been a battle all winter” and stressed to 1500ESPN.com that his goal is to be ready for Opening Day:
There was the goal of the playoffs, and there was the goal of all the rest of it, but it’s been a battle all winter. We’ve done everything, I think, possible to try and take care of this thing and be ready, but whenever it’s ready, it’s ready. There might be a day or two when things aren’t perfect, but you’ve got to battle through it and see how it reacts. But we’re hopeful that by April 1 in Toronto that we’ll be on the field.
His recent progress will be framed as a positive step and that’s certainly true to some extent, but until Morneau starts hitting and fielding without restrictions no one really knows much of anything about his status. If he hasn’t been able to put the aftereffects of the concussion behind him after eight months there’s certainly no guarantee that he’ll be ready to do so after nine months, and there are just as many questions about his status for this season right now as there were when the Twins ruled him out for the playoffs in October.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.