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 Braves have made it official, announcing that they have called up top prospect Ronald Acuña. He’ll bat sixth in tonight’s game against the Reds and will start in left field.
Acuña will be wearing number 13, no doubt to honor past Braves luminaries like Adonis Garcia, Nate McLouth, Ozzie Guillen, Juan Eichelberger and Jerry Royster, all of whom have worn the fabled 1 and 3. Feel like he stands a pretty good chance of besting their exploits.
The 20-year-old Acuña was 11-for-his-last-33 with a homer, a double, four walks, and three stolen bases at Triple-A Gwinnett following a slow start. He tore it up in spring training, however, and hit .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs, 82 RBI, 44 stolen bases, and 88 runs scored in 139 games last season across three levels of the Braves’ minor league system.
The future was delayed a bit, but it’s here now for the Atlanta Braves’ phenom.