After spending eight months on the sidelines following a concussion last July the Twins have their cleanup hitter back, as manager Ron Gardenhire announced today that Justin Morneau will be in the Opening Day lineup when Minnesota kicks off the season in Toronto tomorrow night.
Gardenhire told reporters that he plans to give Morneau frequent days off early in the season, which the Twins are uniquely positioned to do thanks to Jim Thome’s presence on the bench. On days Morneau doesn’t start Thome will be in the lineup at designated hitter, Jason Kubel will move to right field, and Michael Cuddyer will take over at first base.
That’s the arrangement the Twins used in the second half last season with Morneau on the disabled list, but it’ll be interesting to see how Gardenhire finds playing time for Thome and his 1.039 OPS if Morneau proves healthy enough to play nearly every day. One of Kubel, Cuddyer, or Delmon Young would have to be on the bench.
Good news in Boston: An MRI on Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi‘s left knee revealed no structural damage.
Benintendi slipped while trying to avoid a tag at second base, injuring his leg, but it appears he’s avoided a serious injury. A timetable for his return isn’t known at this point, but the Red Sox expect to get him back before the end of the season.
Benintendi is hitting .324/.365/.485 with a homer and ten RBI in 21 games.
And then there was one. One player from the 2008 World Series champs, that is. Ryan Howard likely isn’t going anywhere so he’ll be the last one to turn the lights off, but today Carlo Ruiz bid adieu to the Phillies following his trade to Los Angeles.
Lost in all of the emotions the Dodgers are reported to be feeling about A.J. Ellis leaving is the fact that Ruiz was one of the most beloved Phillies players ever, by both his teammates and their fans. Yesterday Roy Halladay penned a heartfelt goodbye to Ruiz, suggesting that he was every bit as essential to his and the Phillies’ success as Ellis has been to Clayton Kershaw (and in pure baseball production, obviously, quite more).
Today Chooch left a message for his now former teammates: