After being examined by a doctor yesterday Justin Morneau was not cleared for game action despite suffering a concussion eight months ago.
Morneau and the Twins continue to talk about the progress he’s made recently and from a quality of life standpoint it truly sounds like he’s significantly improved, but eight months after the concussion and with just one month until Opening Day the fact that he still can’t rejoin the lineup is very troubling.
Here’s what Morneau told Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com about his trip to the doctor:
No game action, no activity where I could be in danger. There’s still a risk of injury. We said we were going to come down to spring training, see how it goes. Still progressing, everything is still going good. We’re going to continue what we’re doing. When we’re cleared for games, you’ll see me in the lineup. Until I’m cleared for games, there’s no timetable, no nothing. Test results, everything is still improving. I’m not all the way there yet, but it’s a lot closer than it was.
We’ll just see how things are going. If I feel like things are getting through every day symptom-free without any headaches, without any fogginess, without anything, when we have that more than one or two days in a row or whatever it is, we’ll go and hopefully get cleared. When that is, I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I have no idea.
In other words, he’s still not totally symptom-free from a brain injury suffered on July 7, which is awfully scary.
Morneau has been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls for the past week–albeit while wearing a helmet and sunglasses–but at this point there’s obviously no guarantee that he’ll be ready to play in just four weeks when more than 30 weeks of rest hasn’t been enough for doctors to clear him.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.