Justin Morneau to undergo neck surgery, expected to miss six weeks

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Justin Morneau just can’t catch a break.

After sitting out nine months following a concussion last July he returned to the Twins’ lineup to hit just .225 with four homers and a .619 OPS in 55 games before being placed on the disabled list with a wrist injury last week.

And now Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Morneau “will undergo surgery to alleviate neck pain” and is expected to miss “about six weeks.”

Morneau complained about neck pain as far back as the middle of spring training and revealed a few weeks ago that he was playing through a pinched nerve, but Twins trainer Rick McWane told Souhan that the injury is not related to last year’s concussion

Minnesota’s season has been wrecked by injuries to nearly every key contributor and now Morneau joins Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Jason Kubel in missing significantly more time than initially expected.  And in this case the official reason for Morneau being placed on the DL wasn’t even his neck. What a mess.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.