John McDonald; Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau feeling better, but still not “100 percent” eight months after concussion

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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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.