Justin Morneau is starting at first base and batting cleanup in this morning’s “B” game between the Twins and Pirates, marking the first time he’s been in any lineup since suffering a concussion more than eight months ago.
Normally a former MVP seeing game action for the first time since last July would have been big news, but the Twins have cut way back on their Morneau updates recently and gave zero warning to the media members in attendance.
Reporters on site first got the idea that he might be playing when Morneau participated in pre-game warmups and didn’t find out for sure that he was actually in the lineup until the Twins took the field for a game not broadcast on television or radio (although Kelly Thesier of MLB.com did snap that photo of his first at-bat).
Whatever the case, this qualifies as excellent news for the Twins and Morneau, who’s repeatedly stressed the positive progress he’s made recently in recovering from the concussion. He’s reportedly still not fully clear of post-concussion symptoms and the day after big workouts have given him the most trouble in the past, but given how patient the Twins have been throughout his recovery the fact that a doctor cleared him to return dramatically shifts his chances of being in the Opening Day lineup after that possibility seemed somewhat unlikely as recently as a few days ago.
UPDATE: Morneau grounded out to second base in his first at-bat. In his second at-bat he came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a three-run double.
The 2017 MLB award season officially drew to a close on Friday with the Esurance MLB Awards, handed out to the best hitters, pitchers, front office members and moments in the 2017 season. Jose Altuve was crowned the Best Major Leaguer overall, beating out fellow finalists Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, while two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber took home honors as Best Pitcher.
Here’s the full list of winners:
- Best Rookie: Aaron Judge
- Best Defensive Player: Nolan Arenado
- Personality of the Year: Adrian Beltre
- Best Postseason Major Leaguer: Jose Altuve and Justin Verlander
- Best Postseason Moment: Alex Bregman‘s 10th inning walk-off single in Game 5 of the World Series (video)
- Best TV/Radio Call: Joe Buck and John Smoltz call Jose Altuve’s game-tying three-run blast in Game 5 of the World Series (video)
- Best Play (Offense): Nolan Arenado completes the cycle with a walk-off homer (video)
- Best Play (Defense): Austin Jackson‘s over-the-wall catch in the Red Sox’ bullpen (video)
- Best Single-Game Performance: Anthony Rendon‘s six-hit, three-homer, 10-RBI game (video)
- Best Player-Fan Interaction: Joey Votto gives Walter “Superbubz” Herbert a bat and jersey (video)
- Best Fan Catch: Fan’s brother-in-law grabs Yasiel Puig home run ball and chucks it back on the field (video)
- Best Manager: A.J. Hinch
- Best Executive: Jeff Luhnow
No surprises here — the world champion Astros ran away with seven awards, including those for Best Manger and Executive and a dual award for Best Major Leaguer of the Postseason. Altuve added to an impressive run this offseason after earning a Silver Slugger, two Players Choice Awards, Hank Aaron Award and MVP Award for his outstanding work in 2017, while Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge continued to be a lock for all AL rookie-based awards after locking down the Rookie of the Year title earlier this week.