The Twins put an end to catcher Joe Mauer’s season on Friday due to a case of pneumonia.
Now it’s Justin Morneau’s turn.
According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire acknowledged on a radio program Sunday that his first baseman is unlikely to return this year due to ongoing complications related to a severe concussion that he suffered in mid-2010.
Morneau began experiencing renewed symptoms (like headaches and dizziness) late last month after diving for a ball near first base. Those symptoms are being labeled as “mild,” but the Twins’ medical staff knows better than to push it with a major head injury that has already cost the player over four months.
Morneau struggled mightily this year, batting just .227/.285/.333 with four home runs, 16 doubles and 30 RBI in 69 games. There’s no telling if he’ll ever fully recover from that July 2010 collision at second base.
UPDATE, 12:29pm: Mackey has confirmed that Morneau has indeed been shut down for the year. The first baseman is also scheduled to undergo a minor procedure to remove a cyst from his left knee.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.