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.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.