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.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.