According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Justin Morneau is back in the starting lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Indians. He’ll play first base and bat cleanup against right-hander Fausto Carmona.
Morneau has been sidelined since last Saturday due to a stiff neck and a case of the flu. He recently received a cortisone injection to relieve inflammation in the neck. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said yesterday that Morneau could be available to pinch-hit today, so his condition has obviously improved greatly over the past 24 hours.
Morneau is batting .208/.250/.302 with zero homers, five doubles and three RBI over his first 56 plate appearances this season.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.