The Rockies’ pursuit of Justin Morneau could “heat up” soon

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With Todd Helton now off to greener pastures, the Rockies need a new first baseman. You can expect them to start pursuing free agent Justin Morneau more heavily this week, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Morneau, now 32, was traded to the Pirates at the end of August after a 10 and a half year career with the Twins. He wasn’t particularly effective, mustering just a .681 OPS without hitting a home run in his month-plus with the Pirates.

Morneau has dealt with concussion issues since July 2010, when his head connected with then-Blue Jays second baseman John McDonald’s knee attempting to break up a double play. He missed the rest of the season, a total of 78 games. In late June 2011, he underwent surgery to address a herniated disc, knocking him out of another 55 games. He was shut down for the season at the end of August with an array of ailments, most importantly concussion symptoms that had flared up again. While he has played in at least 134 games in each of the past two seasons, he has been a shadow of his former self.

Colorado could be a good destination for Morneau, especially on a short-term deal. He would benefit from the hitter-friendly confines, which would allow him to rebuild his value and give him potentially one more chance to earn a nice contract before his career is over. In the event the Rockies don’t land Morneau, they consider James Loney their fallback option.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.