On the disabled list since May 1 after aggravating his surgically repaired left wrist, Justin Morneau felt good enough to take 30-40 swings in batting practice yesterday.
Afterward the former MVP told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com that his wrist is still sore, but added that no new problems emerged from the BP session and he’s planning to simply play through the pain at some point if it doesn’t improve.
Playing through the pain hasn’t worked particularly well for Morneau so far, as he’s missed most of the past two-and-a-half seasons following a concussion in mid-2010 and five unrelated surgeries while hitting just .228 when in the lineup.
Morneau is aiming to be ready once he’s eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow, which is rough timing considering the Twins’ upcoming interleague series in Milwaukee won’t allow him to get partial rest as a designated hitter. He played 20 games before landing on the DL, but only four came as a first baseman.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.