Justin Morneau took outdoor batting practice against live pitching today for the first time, which is a big step as he continues what is now an eight month-long recovery from a concussion suffered on July 7.
Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com reports that Morneau took 40 swings, “hit five balls over the fence, and kept a light mood, joking with teammates and coaches.”
Morneau also fielded ground balls at first base and participated in double play drills, the movements for which have triggered the post-concussion symptoms in the past. He’ll wear sunglasses for all workouts to avoid any sun-fueled triggers.
At this point the Twins have indicated that Morneau probably won’t play during the first two weeks of the exhibition schedule, so he still has plenty of hurdles to clear before being in the Opening Day lineup is likely.
Monday night has, unfortunately, been a night of injuries. Joaquin Benoit and Corey Kluber suffered injuries earlier in the evening and now it appears that Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has suffered an apparent right knee injury.
In the top of the sixth inning, Yasmany Tomas hit a double to right field that scored Paul Goldschmidt. Brandon Drury was on his way to home plate as right fielder Brian Goodwin got the relay throw into first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman threw home but it sailed high. Ramos leaped to grab the ball and came down awkwardly, as MASN’s Dan Kolko describes. Ramos clutched and pointed at his right knee. He was unable to put any weight on it as he was helped off the field. Per Kolko, Ramos struggled to get down the dugout steps.
Pedro Severino came in as a defensive replacement for Ramos. The Nationals should have more on his condition after the game. It’s worth noting that Ramos tore the ACL and MCL in the same knee back in 2012.
With the Nationals headed to the playoffs, this is a bad time to lose Ramos if the injury is indeed serious. He came into Monday night batting .307/.354/.497 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI in 520 plate appearances. He went 1-for-3 with a single before exiting Monday’s game.
Indians ace Corey Kluber lasted only four innings in Monday night’s start against the Tigers, exiting with tightness in his right groin, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports. Kluber had allowed two runs on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Both runs scored in the bottom of the second inning on a J.D. Martinez two-run home run.
More should be known on Kluber’s status after the game.
With a week left in the regular season, the Indians are hobbling to the finish line. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were injured earlier this month, forcing the club to get creative with its starting rotation.
The Indians are leading the Tigers 5-3 as of this writing. If they win, they will clinch the AL Central for their first division title since 2007.