While he may be too late to help the sinking Twins in the American League Central, Justin Morneau is at least swinging the bat well during his minor league rehab assignment.
After going 3-for-5 with two doubles last night, he is now batting .409 (9-for-22) with four doubles and five RBI over his first five rehab games with Triple-A Rochester. Morneau was originally placed on the disabled list in mid-June with a strained left wrist before opting for neck surgery later in the month.
The Twins have lost six in a row and nine out of 10, so they could certainly use the boost, but manager Ron Gardenhire told Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Schelling of MLB.com that Morneau likely won’t be activated from the disabled list until next Monday in Detroit.
“He’s hitting the ball hard,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s getting some swings in. We’ll go day by day and see where he’s at. So probably Detroit or something like that. We’ll see how it goes.”
Morneau, 30, was batting just .225/.281/.338 with four homers and a .619 OPS prior to being placed on the disabled list. A strong finish would at least give the Twins one less thing to worry about headed into what will be an interesting offseason.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.