On the disabled list since May 1 after aggravating his surgically repaired left wrist, Justin Morneau felt good enough to take 30-40 swings in batting practice yesterday.
Afterward the former MVP told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com that his wrist is still sore, but added that no new problems emerged from the BP session and he’s planning to simply play through the pain at some point if it doesn’t improve.
Playing through the pain hasn’t worked particularly well for Morneau so far, as he’s missed most of the past two-and-a-half seasons following a concussion in mid-2010 and five unrelated surgeries while hitting just .228 when in the lineup.
Morneau is aiming to be ready once he’s eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow, which is rough timing considering the Twins’ upcoming interleague series in Milwaukee won’t allow him to get partial rest as a designated hitter. He played 20 games before landing on the DL, but only four came as a first baseman.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.