Twins first baseman Justin Morneau suffered a concussion on a slide into second base up in Toronto this past season and never returned to the playing field.
He could barely even work out because of headaches related to the concussion and wound up missing a total of 78 regular season games and then the ALCS.
Things have improved.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Morneau began doing cardio exercises this week and should resume baseball-related activities soon.
“The road to recovery is going well,” Morneau wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “I started working out again this week, and I am feeling pretty good. It has been a long and frustrating road, but feels good to be able to function normally on a day-to-day basis. The first couple of workouts have gone well, and I am sure I will be more than over-anxious to get spring training and the season started once February rolls around.”
Morneau hit .345/.437/.618 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI in 81 games this year before going down.
The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.
The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.
The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.
Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.