Justin Morneau visits doctor, but still not cleared for game action eight months after concussion

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After being examined by a doctor yesterday Justin Morneau was not cleared for game action despite suffering a concussion eight months ago.

Morneau and the Twins continue to talk about the progress he’s made recently and from a quality of life standpoint it truly sounds like he’s significantly improved, but eight months after the concussion and with just one month until Opening Day the fact that he still can’t rejoin the lineup is very troubling.

Here’s what Morneau told Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com about his trip to the doctor:

No game action, no activity where I could be in danger. There’s still a risk of injury. We said we were going to come down to spring training, see how it goes. Still progressing, everything is still going good. We’re going to continue what we’re doing. When we’re cleared for games, you’ll see me in the lineup. Until I’m cleared for games, there’s no timetable, no nothing. Test results, everything is still improving. I’m not all the way there yet, but it’s a lot closer than it was.

We’ll just see how things are going. If I feel like things are getting through every day symptom-free without any headaches, without any fogginess, without anything, when we have that more than one or two days in a row or whatever it is, we’ll go and hopefully get cleared. When that is, I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I have no idea.

In other words, he’s still not totally symptom-free from a brain injury suffered on July 7, which is awfully scary.

Morneau has been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls for the past week–albeit while wearing a helmet and sunglasses–but at this point there’s obviously no guarantee that he’ll be ready to play in just four weeks when more than 30 weeks of rest hasn’t been enough for doctors to clear him.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.