Results tagged ‘ Justin Morneau ’

Day 3 of pitchers and catchers working out

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The big news today was Denard Span making his first appearance at camp, and getting through a full day of workouts.

The center fielder took batting practice, ran the bases and shagged balls in the outfield without any issues.

He said he’s still bothered by the occasional bad day, but thinks he’s over the concussion-like symptoms that stemmed from his concussion suffered on June 3 in a home-plate collision. So be on the lookout for a full Denard Span story on the site later today.

And with Span at camp, only four Twins players — Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia and Sean Burroughs — have yet to report prior to Thursday’s official report date. I’ve also heard that Willingham is expected to get into town tonight and report tomorrow.

Speaking of Morneau, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he needs to be medically cleared by Major League Baseball because he ended last season on the disabled list with concussion-like symptoms. But it’s expected to be more than a formality than anything else because Morneau is feeling good and hasn’t felt those symptoms since December.

Other than that, it was a relatively quiet day at Twins camp. But are a few other notes from today:

- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t confirm that he’ll carry three catchers to start the season, but hinted strongly that’s the way he’s leaning. Drew Butera remains the favorite but should be pushed by former Astros top prospect J.R. Towles.

- The Twins are still waiting on Dr. Lewis Yocum to look at the MRI exam results taken on Luke Hughes’ sprained right shoulder. They could hear back by tomorrow.

- Shortstop Brian Dozier still has his cut left thumb wrapped up, but is able to swing the bat.

- Gardenhire talked about the stability he expects from Jamie Carroll at shortstop this season. He said he was never in favor of sending Jason Bartlett to the Rays in ’07 in the trade that brought Delmon Young to Minnesota. Also, he added that he wasn’t happy with the decision to not bring back Nick Punto last offseason. But he was happy to see him win the World Series with the Cardinals, and texted him shortly after the Fall Classic to congratulate him.

And here are today’s photos:

And a short video of Span taking batting practice:

Morneau out for season

MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Morneau is the latest Twins player to be shut down for the season.

Two days after the club announced Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka won’t play again this year, Twins trainer Rick McWane said Morneau will be held out of action because of his concussion-like symptoms and will also have a cyst removed from his left knee this week.

“He’s been battling various ailments the last couple weeks in addition to his concussion symptoms and we’ve decided to shut him down,” McWane said. “He’s actually going to have surgery on his left knee sometime this week to remove a cyst that has been bothering him off and on for about a year.”

Morneau, who has also been sick with the flu in recent days, has been out with concussion symptoms stemming from a dive for a ground ball on Aug. 28.

He hoped to return as a designated hitter before the season ended, but his latest battle with the flu set him back, and the club hasn’t had a chance to evaluate his concussion symptoms the last few days.

“He’s been sick and throwing up and had a headache, so we haven’t had a chance to truly evaluate how he really feels,” McWane said. “But the knee surgery is a very simple surgery.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he wasn’t surprised by the decision, as there are just 10 days left in the season, and the training staff had been leaning toward shutting down Morneau.

“They’ve been talking about that over and over again,” Gardenhire said. “Then he got the flu bug and that kept him away for a couple days too. So we really haven’t been able to sit down with him and talk to him other than over the phone. He came in yesterday but hasn’t been doing too well.”

Morneau finishes the season with a .227 batting average, .285 on-base percentage and .333 slugging percentage along with four homers and 30 RBIs in just 69 games. He missed 56 games from mid-June until mid-August with a sprained left wrist and also underwent neck surgery on June 29.

Morneau, who played in just 81 games last season after suffering a concussion before the All-Star break, has missed 201 games over the last three years. It’s still unclear whether he’ll be able to remain at first base next season, or if he’ll be limited to serving as the club’s designated hitter.

“It’s just the unknown,” Gardenhire said. “I was hoping we’d have a better idea of having him on the field and taking some swings but it didn’t work out. So I won’t have any answers until we get to Spring Training.”

Morneau, Casilla to rejoin Twins on Friday

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced today that first baseman Justin Morneau and second baseman Alexi Casilla will be activated from the disabled list prior to Friday’s game in Cleveland.

Morneau, who underwent surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment in his neck on June 29, wasn’t expected to rejoin the team until Monday at the earliest.

But the slugger has looked impressive so far in five games with Triple-A Rochester, hitting .409 with four doubles and five RBIs. He’s expected to play with the Red Wings tonight and tomorrow before being activated in time for Friday’s game against the Indians.

“He’s killing the ball,” Gardenhire said. “He’s swinging really good, and feels great. He basically said, “Get me out of here, please. It’s really hot in Durham.’”

Morneau was originally placed on the disabled list, retroactive to June 10, with a sprained left wrist, before electing to undergo neck surgery later in the month. He was hitting .225 with a .619 OPS along with four homers and 21 RBIs in 55 games before hitting the DL.

He was bothered by problems with his neck and left wrist all season before his trip to the disabled list.

It’s been a tough year and a half for the first baseman, as he missed the second half of last year with a concussion suffered on July 7 in Toronto. He was putting up MVP-type numbers before the season-ending injury, as he was hitting .345 with a 1.055 OPS and 18 homers in 81 games.

Gardenhire said he’s hopeful that now that Morneau is fully healthy again, he can get back to his old ways.

“If we get the guy back who is driving the ball the other now, and the guy who we’ve seen hit and be healthy, then I think it’ll be real entertaining to watch him,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve seen how he can carry a ballclub. If we can get him back and keep him on the field, it will be really entertaining not only for the rest of this year, but maybe having a guy healthy for the start of next year, and we’ll go from there.”

Casilla, meanwhile, made quick progress with his strained right hamstring, and will be activated on the first day he’s eligible to return.

Casilla has been taking batting and fielding practice, as well as participating in running drills, this week at Target Field, and is ready to make his return, according to Gardenhire.

“Casilla feels fantastic,” Gardenhire said. “He’ll be activated for Friday night’s game in Cleveland. His legs feel good. He’s running. The whole package.”

Casilla was hitting .259/.322/.369 with 15 stolen bases and 21 doubles in 96 games this season before injuring his hamstring while running the bases against the Rangers in Texas on July 27.

He bounced back after a rough start, as he hit just .167 in April, but hit .281 with a .751 OPS over the next three months before his injury.

“I think we saw him starting off scuffling a little bit, but as the season has gone along, he’s been one of our better players,” Gardenhire said. “We all know about the athleticism and the plays this guy can make. But we’re seeing that consistency we saw a few years ago, and that’s all it’s ever been about with Alexi.”

Outfielder Jason Repko and infielders Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert are candidates to be optioned on Triple-A Rochster when Morneau and Casilla return.

Morneau to begin rehab assignment Friday

ANAHEIM — First baseman Justin Morneau, who underwent surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment in his neck on June 29, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester tomorrow, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who received the news from general manager Bill Smith.

“He’s flying out tonight and heading to Norfolk, Va. to meet the team and will begin a rehab assignment,” Gardenhire said. “I talked to Billy today, and he said that Morneau is chomping at the bit and ready to go. So we’ll see. I haven’t seen him, so I can’t tell you anything other than he’s ready to go in his opinion.”

Morneau, who started swinging the bat last Friday and has been taking batting practice and fielding ground balls at Target Field this week, was cleared by the Twins’ medical staff to make his return.

Morneau, who is hitting .225 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 55 games this year, was originally placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 10 with a sprained left wrist, before electing to undergo neck surgery later in the month. But Morneau is feeling healthy enough to start playing in games, despite undergoing surgery just a little more than a month ago.

“Physically, Tony Leo, our trainer, says there are no limitations,” Gardenhire said. “So we’re letting him go.”

Gardenhire, though, said he doesn’t have a timetable for Morneau’s return, as he’s not sure how many at-bats he’ll need before he’s ready to be activated from the disabled list to rejoin the Twins.

“I haven’t seen the schedule or what the plans are,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t know if he’s going to play five innings the first day or two. I haven’t seen anything. … He’s really believing that he’ll join us really soon, but I’m not buying that.”

Mauer back at catcher (Game 87 vs. White Sox)

CHICAGO — Joe Mauer is back at catcher tonight after playing first base yesterday.

And Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to clarify comments made by Joe Mauer after last night’s game, when he reiterated he’s still a catcher despite impressing in his first career start at first base.

Gardenhire simply wanted to make it clear that Mauer will remain the club’s catcher moving forward, but that the four-time All-Star has no problems with playing first base to get his bat in the lineup with Justin Morneau out until mid-August.

“He’s a catcher and he’ll do whatever we ask,” Gardenhire said. “But he wants it known he’s a catcher and he feels really good behind the plate and loves running the game. But we can use him at first base and we’ll be able to do that in the second half to keep his bat in the lineup and also give him those days from getting beat up from behind the plate.”

Gardenhire then dropped a hint that Mauer could even play the outfield, but later said it was just a statement to show that Mauer is willing to do whatever is asked of him.

“If [Jim] Thome can play, you can put Mauer at first, and it’s not even an issue, which is really cool,” Gardenhire said. “And if Morny comes back, like he’s going to do in August, we might have him play in the outfield somewhere too. Oh, write that one. Look at the Tweets right now. Look at the bloggers firing it through now. Who knows? He’ll do whatever we want him to do just to keep his bat in the lineup.”

Gardenhire then was asked if his comments were tongue in cheek, and confirmed it was more of a hypothetical situation than anything else.

“I love it. I absolutely love it. I’m trying to explain to you that he’ll play wherever and if I ask Joe to play right field or left field, he’ll say, “OK, if that’s what you need.’” Gardenhire said. “That’s the point I’m trying to get across. If I ask him to do that, he’ll give it a go.”

Twins (39-47)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Danny Valencia, DH
6. Rene Tosoni, LF
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Tsuysho Nishioka, SS
9. Matt Tolbert, 3B

RHP Nick Blackburn (6-6, 4.02 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 1.86 K/BB)

White Sox (43-46)

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Paul Konerko, 1B
4. Adam Dunn, DH
5. Carlos Quentin, RF
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
8. Gordon Beckham, 2B
9. Brent Morel, 3B

RHP Gavin Floyd (6-8, 4.17 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 2.75 K/BB)

Mauer likely to play first tomorrow (Game 85 vs. Rays)

MINNEAPOLIS — Catcher Joe Mauer was held out of the lineup today against the Rays after taking a foul tip to his shoulder, but is expected to return to action tomorrow in Chicago and will likely play first base for the first time in his big league career.

Mauer, who has been taking ground balls at first base during batting practice since June 27, hasn’t played first base since playing one game there with Class A Fort Myers in 2003.

“Joe Mauer will probably play first base with Jim Thome at DH and Drew Butera catching,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Joe’s not going to play today. He’s a little beat up, which is understandable. I saw his swing last night and looked a little sore. That’s going to be expected.”

Mauer is being called to action at first with Justin Morneau out until at least mid-August after undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment from his neck last week. It will be a change of pace for Mauer, who last saw extended time at first when he played 13 games there with Class A Quad Cities in 2002.

“He’s fine,” Gardenhire said. “But you won’t really know until you get him into a game. He’s pretty fluid over there to tell you the truth. He has soft hands and moves around pretty good. All the fundamental parts of it will be a learning experience for him.”

With Mauer out of the lineup today, Rene Rivera makes the start, as he has worked well with left-hander Francisco Liriano this season. Liriano entered Wednesday with a 1.91 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks in 33 innings with Rivera behind the plate this season.

Lineups for the 12:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Rays (47-39)

1. Johnny Damon, DH
2. Ben Zobrist, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. B.J. Upton, CF
5. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
7. Justin Ruggiano, LF
8. Kelly Shoppach, C
9. Eliot Johnson, SS

RHP Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 1.31 K/BB)

TWINS (38-46)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Danny Valencia, 3B
6. Rene Tosoni, LF
7. Jason Repko, RF
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

LHP Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 1.66 K/BB)

Morneau talks neck surgery (Game 84 vs. Rays)

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins first baseman Justin Morneau returned to Target Field for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment on his neck today and told reporters the procedure went well.

Morneau, who is expected to be out until mid-August, said the plan is to rest for the next ten to 14 days before ramping up his baseball activities. He also had his cast removed from his sprained left wrist on Friday.

“I haven’t really been able to do much,” Morneau said. “I’m feeling better every day, getting more range of motion every day. As a bonus, the wrist felt a lot better when we got the cast off. It actually felt a lot better this time than when they took the cast off the first time. I thought I was going to be more stiff. It’s going good. Still a ways away, unfortunately. It’s getting better.”

Morneau, though, said he still has numbness in his left index finger, but that he hopes it’ll go away with time. But he added the pain in his neck and shoulder that plagued him before the surgery has started to subside.

“The sort of pain down my arm has felt better than it did,” said Morneau, who will have stitches removed from his neck tommorow. “It’s hard to tell right now, because I don’t have the range of motion yet. It doesn’t feel normal yet. It’s still sore from the surgery.”

The 2006 American League MVP also said he doesn’t think the injury will keep him out the entire season like last year, when a concussion suffered July 7 kept him out of action the rest of the season. He said this injury is less frustrating than the concussion because at least there’s a timetable this time.

“It shouldn’t be [season-ending],” Morneau said. “That’s the reason we did it. If that was the case, we would have waited until the offseason. This was with the hopes of being able to play that last month-and-a-half, close to two months healthy and go into the offseason healthy, and hopefully talk about the playoffs and hopefully be healthy for the playoffs. That was the goal, instead of wait until the end and all of the sudden it’s going on longer and that’s an entire miserable season, instead of finishing on a good note.”

Lineups for the 7:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Rays (47-38)

1. Johhny Damon, DH
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Matt Joyce, RF
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
7. John Jaso, C
8. Sam Fuld, LF
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

RHP James Shields, (8-5, 2.45 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 4.23 K/BB)

Twins (37-46)

1. Ben Revere CF
2. Alexi Casilla 2B
3. Joe Mauer C
4. Michael Cuddyer 1B
5. Jim Thome DH
6. Danny Valencia 3B
7. Rene Tosoni LF
8. Jason Repko RF
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka SS

RHP Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 3.48 K/BB)

WAR leaders at halfway point (Game 82 vs Brewers)

MINNEAPOLIS — After last night’s heartbreaking loss to the Brewers in which the Twins blew a seven-run lead — tied for the fourth-worst blown lead in franchise history — the Twins are at the halfway point of the season.

It’s safe to say it’s been a disappointing year for the Twins, who are just 35-46 and enter today trailing the Indians by nine games in the American League Central.

But today was also a positive day for Michael Cuddyer, who was named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his 11-year career.

Cuddyer was certainly a deserving All-Star for his impressive play in the first-half of the season, and his versatility only helped his case. But with that in mind, here’s a look at the leaders for the Twins in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) through 81 games courtesy of FanGraphs.com:

Position players:

1. Denard Span, 2.6
2. Michael Cuddyer, 1.6
3. Jason Kubel, 1.0
4. Alexi Casilla, 0.7
5. Ben Revere, 0.6
6. Jim Thome, 0.5
7. Delmon Young, 0.3
8. Danny Valencia, 0.3
9. Luke Hughes, 0.2

Pitchers:

1. Scott Baker, 2.0
2. Carl Pavano, 1.5
3. Brian Duensing, 1.4
4. Glen Perkins, 0.9
5. Francisco Liriano, 0.8
6. Nick Blackburn, 0.6
7. Alex Burnett, 0.2
8. Anthony Swarzak, 0.1
9. Chuck James, 0.1

Notes: I only included players with positive WARs, so the list didn’t include players such as Joe Mauer (-0.2), Justin Morneau (-0.3), Joe Nathan (-0.3) or Tsuyoshi Nishioka (-0.6). So it really is pretty amazing that Mauer, Morneau and Nathan — with 12 All-Star appearances among them — combined to produce a -0.8 WAR so far this year.

Lineups for the 1:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Brewers (45-39)

1. Rickie Weeks, DH
2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Corey Hart, RF
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Mat Gamel, 3B
6. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
7. Mark Kotsay, LF
8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
9. Craig Counsell, 2B

RHP Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.68 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 6.67 K/BB)

Twins (35-46)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Rene Tosoni, LF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

RHP Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.86 K/BB)

Mauer takes grounders at 1B (Game 77 vs Dodgers)

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer fielded ground balls before today’s game against the Dodgers, but is starting at catcher and batting third with Luke Hughes getting the start at first.

Mauer, who hasn’t played first base since playing one game there in 2003 with Class A Fort Myers, is trying to learn the position to help out with spot duty, as the Twins will be without Justin Morneau until at least mid-August because he’s having neck surgery on Wednesday.

“I know I can do it,” said Mauer, who played 13 games at first in ’02 with Class A Quad Cities. “It’s just obviously this is the big league level. It’s just not an overnight thing. You can’t just say you have a good idea of how to play first and just go out there. But I’m going to do everything I can to try to get ready as quick as I can.”

Mauer added he’d play “first or third or left or pitch” to help the team, and said that although he wants to be the club’s primary catcher, he thinks mixing in some first base could be a good thing for the team and even his career.

“I think so,” Mauer said. “I’ve never been opposed to it. I think that’s where people get mixed up. They think I’m just stubborn and want to catch, and that’s it. But that’s not the case.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer “looked tall” at first base, but added he was happy to see him taking grounders there before the game. But he offered no hints on when Mauer would get his first start at first base.

“I have no timetable,” Gardenhire said. “This isn’t about a timetable. It’s about him taking ground balls and getting the glove and just taking some throws. And once we get to a point where we’re comfortable with him, then we’ll do it. But I don’t think it’ll take long.”

Lineups for tonight’s 7:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Dodgers (35-44)

1. Tony Gwynn, Jr,, LF
2. Casey Blake, 3B
3. Andre Eithier, DH
4. Matt Kemp, CF
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Juan Urbie, 2B
7. Trent Oeltjen, RF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Dee Gordon, SS

RHP Chad Billingsley (6-6, 4.48 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 2.15 K/BB)

Twins (32-44)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Rene Tosoni, LF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Nishi, SS

RHP Nick Blackburn (6-5, 3.15 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.89 K/BB)

Nishioka activated from the DL (Game 66 vs White Sox)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins activated infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka from the 60-day disabled list before today’s game against the White Sox, but he was held out of the starting lineup with the plan to start him at shortstop tomorrow.

Nishioka missed 59 games with a fractured left fibula suffered on April 7 when Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher slid into him at second base while trying to break up a double play. He replaced first baseman Justin Morneau on the 25-man roster after he was placed on the 15-day DL with a left wrist strain on Tuesday. Left-hander Dusty Hughes was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester roster to make room for Nishioka on the 40-man roster.

“He’s active for the game and I can use him, so I told him I might pinch-hit him late in the game or whatever,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.”

As part of his rehab process, Nishioka played in extended Spring Training before playing four games with Single-A Fort Myers and three games with Triple-A Rochester. He batted a combined .333 with a .448 on-base percentage in the Minors, while playing shortstop in all seven games.

But Nishioka, who began the year as the Twins’ starting second baseman before his injury, worked out at both second and short during his rehab stint. Gardenhire said he expects him to be the club’s starting shortstop moving forward with Alexi Casilla shifting to second base.

“I felt really comfortable playing shortstop so I told Gardy that I’m comfortable at any position — second or shortstop,” Nishioka said through translator Ryo Shinkawa. “Whatever he decides, I’ll be comfortable playing it.”

Nishioka will also be playing in his first game at Target Field, as he was injured before the Twins’ first home game of the season on April 8.

“I was looking forward to playing in front of the fans at Target Field so it will be special for me,” Nishioka said.

Here are the lineups for both teams for Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. CT start at Target Field.

WHITE SOX (33-35)

1. Juan Pierre, CF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Carlos Quentin, RF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. A.J. Pierzynski, C
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. Adam Dunn, DH
8. Gordon Beckham, 2B
9. Brent Morel, 3B

RHP Gavin Floyd (6-5, 3.89 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 3.00 K/BB)

TWINS (26-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Delmon Young, DH
5. Luke Hughes, 1B
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Brian Dinkelman, LF
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Drew Butera, C

RHP Carl Pavano (3-5, 4.54 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.83 K/BB)

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