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.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.