From Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 AM comes word that Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau underwent surgery Wednesday to remove a fragment of a herniated disk from his neck.
Morneau had been bothered by the bone fragment for most of the regular season and decided to get it taken care of this week while he continues his recovery from a left wrist injury. The neck procedure is expected to sideline him for at least another six weeks, and perhaps the rest of the year.
Morneau, 30, has batted just .225/.281/.338 this season with four home runs and 22 RBI in 51 games. The native of Canada hasn’t been the same since suffering a concussion just before the 2010 All-Star break.
No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.
Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.
Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.