Free-agent first baseman Justin Morneau underwent surgery in December to repair a tendon in his elbow, and he is experiencing a bumpy road to recovery. 

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Morneau’s MLB Future in Doubt

Thursday, March 17

Morneau told La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune on Thursday that he will not be able to swing a bat until June, which is why he hasn’t been able to catch on with another team in the offseason. 

“I went into the offseason thinking what I had was just tendinitis,” he said. “It was a problem that began last year in spring training and that I dealt with all year. I rested like I was supposed to and was optimistic it would be better by the time it needed to be.”

The elbow is the latest issue that’s plagued Morneau over the past year. He missed four months in 2015 after suffering a concussion, the third of his career, during his second year with the Colorado Rockies. It came a year after he won the National League batting crown with a .319 average. 

He experienced a resurgence in Colorado, as Morneau had batted under .300 in his previous five full seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates. It was quite a fall from grace for a player who won the 2006 American League MVP award with a .321 batting average, 31 home runs and 130 RBI.

Because of his injury issues, though, the Rockies declined Morneau’s $9 million option when the 2015 season ended. Morneau realized that his elbow wasn’t getting any better, which has held him back from finding a new home in baseball, per Neal: 

I do not blame the Rockies, as we did what we thought was right at the time with the information we had. Unfortunately, once teams starting calling in the offseason and things were moving along I didn’t feel confident that I was getting better so I decided to go get it checked out again on my own. After a new MRI, surgery was recommended and that was the path we chose to take.

By the time Morneau is ready to swing a bat, he’ll be 35 years old, and he’ll have to prove that his elbow and head are good to go in 2016 before a team takes a chance on him. If everything is healed, his bat could be a nice addition for a team that’s looking to add offense to its lineup. 

Morneau can hit to all parts of the field and provide some decent pop. Because he doesn’t have a lot of speed, his bat could be well-suited for a spot near the No. 5 or No. 6 spot in a lineup. Demand for him will depend on how many teams need a boost at first base and, of course, his health.


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