Sunday, March 25, 2012


Its been over a week since Justin Morneau played in the field at first base and his lack of playing time is causing a stir of speculation in the media. Twins GM Terry Ryan insists the reason Morneau is DH'ing instead of playing first is to give him more at bats. He says they aren't worried about Morneau's defense at first. Manager Ron Gardenhire has said the same thing about Morneau's defense, but has also expressed fear that Morneau might get hurt again. Morneau, who in the past has rejected being a permanent DH, allows how that might be possible if it is necessary to keep him in the lineup. But he has also said if he isn't ready to play first base, then he isn't ready to DH either.

Morneau's slow recovery from his concussion over the last two years obviously has created a lot of uncertainty. But if we take the Twin statements at face value, the real issue is not whether Morneau will play first or DH. Its whether he is recovered enough to play at all. Gardenhire recognizes that if Morneau's concussion symptoms return, the decision about Morneau is taken out of their hands. League rules will require that he get a medical clearance again before resuming any baseball activities. So its not surprising that he is nervous about sticking Morneau in the field until he has to.

The real elephant in the room is that, until yesterday, Morneau had not been hitting this spring. So it makes perfect sense that the Twins are focused on getting him as many at bats as possible. Once his bat comes around, they may need to consider the question of whether the lineup is stronger with him DH'ing or at first base. But, if his struggles at the plate continue, the issue of whether he can play first base is moot. The real issue is not whether Morneau has recovered enough to play first, its whether he will have recovered well enough to hit in the major leagues. If not, he isn't in the lineup anywhere.

No comments:

MLB Twins Updates