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.
Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.
Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.
Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.