Justin Morneau told reporters prior to last night’s game that he’s been playing through a pinched nerve in his neck that required cortisone shots and may lead to offseason surgery. And then he went out and homered twice against the Tigers.
Morneau’s season totals are still ugly, but he hit .264 with four homers and a .723 OPS in May after batting .224 with zero homers and a .592 OPS in April, so even with the neck problem now looming over his play there have been some encouraging signs as he tries to get back on track after missing eight months with a concussion.
Shoulder weakness is a symptom of the pinched nerve and Morneau explained that he expects the issue to linger all season. He’s already received two cortisone shots and has missed five of the Twins’ first 55 games, although some early time off was a precaution related to last year’s concussion.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Twins have picked up free agent left-hander Martín Pérez on a one-year deal. Financial terms of the deal have yet to be announced, but it looks like a club option is included for the 2020 season. The Twins have not officially confirmed the signing.
Pérez, 27, missed 85 days of the Rangers’ 2018 campaign after undergoing elbow surgery on his non-throwing arm. He sustained the injury partway through the 2017 offseason; as the story goes, he was charged by a bull at his ranch in Venezuela and fell on his right arm as he was trying to get out of the animal’s path. (He later killed and ate said bull.) When he finally returned to the mound, he cobbled together a 2-7 record in 15 starts with a 6.22 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 5.5 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR through 85 1/3 innings out of the rotation and bullpen.
As they approach the start of the 2019 season, the Twins will be looking for something a little more, well, bullish from Pérez. Prior to his injury, he turned in two solid seasons with the Rangers in 2016 and 2017, nearing the 200-inning threshold in both campaigns and providing a combined value of 4.2 fWAR at a time when Texas’ starters collectively ranked sixth-worst in the league.