On June 14th, Justin Morneau went on the disabled list for a wrist injury. At the time, Twins General Manager Bill Smith classified it as a “short-term thing”. Morneau was expected to spend about 10 on the disabled list and return to the Twins lineup shortly after. Then came the news that Morneau had been playing through neck pain in June and had it checked out.
Morneau underwent neck surgery to relieve the neck pain he was suffering from a pinched nerve. Morneau told reporters that there were times that he could not feel his hands and something had to be done about it. Scary stuff, but he now looks ready to return.
After last night’s 4-3 loss to the Red Sox, Morneau reportedly texted Bill Smith and told him he wanted to face Jon Lester tonight. Bill Smith said no and that it was too early for a return. Morneau is currently hitting .409 (9 for 22) with 4 doubles and 5 RBI in 5 games played with AAA Rochester. Luke Hughes of the Red Wings tweeted last night that Morneau looks “locked in”.
Morneau will play a few more games with Rochester and rejoin the Twins early next week. Before going on the disabled list, he struggled hitting only .225/.281/.338 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in 55 games played. It is clear now that he was playing through a great deal of pain in his wrist and neck, not to mention coming back from a nasty concussion he recieved the year before was contributing greatly to his lack of production.
It appears that Morneau is back to full strength now. The Twins could use his bat in the lineup as the offense has not shown much production over the recent 6 game losing streak. They are currently in 4th place in the AL Central, 10.5 games back of division leading Detroit. The Twins are not completely out of it yet, a couple of good weeks could put them right back into it as they still have 9 games remaining with the Tigers, 9 with the 2nd place Indians and 7 with the 3rd place White Sox.
A healthy and productive Morneau could be the jump start this offense needs to begin a run. Don’t get me wrong, the pitching and defense needs to be much better than it has been in the past week. But the return of Morneau could have a very positive effect on the club. Let’s just hope it’s the pre-concussion Morneau of last year coming back and not the one who struggled early this season.