Justin Morneau has been cleared to resume “baseball activities” three weeks after undergoing surgery to address a pinched nerve in his neck, which according to trainer Rick McWane means “he’s ready to take ground balls, play catch, and run around.”
Swinging the bat will come later, however, so even setting aside the Twins’ inability to get any injured players back within their initial return timetables this season Morneau is unlikely to be ready before mid-August.
Minnesota has used Michael Cuddyer as the primary Morneau replacement, shifting him from right field to first base, but Joe Mauer and Luke Hughes have also gotten starts at first base recently while Trevor Plouffe has become a semi-regular in right field.
Between back surgery in 2009, a concussion in 2010, and neck surgery this season Morneau has played just 271 of the Twins’ last 486 games.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.
Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.
Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.