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.
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.