Justin Morneau to be limited to DH duties

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Justin Morneau remains hopeful of playing again this season after having his concussion symptoms return, but if he can, he’ll only be utilized as a designated hitter, manager Ron Gardenhire said Monday.

Morneau started experiencing headaches and other symptoms after diving for a grounder on Aug. 28.

“He said he’s doing better but isn’t ready to play baseball,” Gardenhire said. “But when he does, he’ll come back, and we’re pretty much going to DH [him] for the rest of the season. We don’t want to play him in the field to keep him from diving around and not banging himself up.”

Obviously, it’s just a one-month move for now.  But if Morneau isn’t completely recovered next year, one wonders if the Twins might try plugging him into the DH spot permanently.  Then again, considering that his concussion symptoms have been an issue for 15 months now, his entire future is up in the air.

 

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.