Justin Morneau is traveling with the White Sox on their seven-game road trip. The former AL MVP and NL Batting champion is hoping to return after the All-Star Game. Morneau’s return is likely to impact Avisail Garcia’s playing time.
Just over a week after signing with the White Sox, Justin Morneau has joined the team on their seven-game road trip. The White Sox have games remaining in Cleveland today and tomorrow ,before heading to Boston for a four-game series.
The White Sox have had a lot of turnover the last two off-seasons. New players getting to know each other usually happens in spring training. Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie were able to get familiar with their new teammates in February and March in Glendale. Morneau was still recovering from off-season surgery on his labrum. Morneau’s 2016 future was uncertain this winter.
Morneau met with reporters earlier in the week to discuss his future, the strangeness of being on the White Sox and what he expects going forward. The White Sox signed the former nemesis from the Twins to a one-year, $1 million contract plus incentives last week.
Speaking to reporters, Morneau was quoted in the Chicago Tribune:
"“I wanted to come on the road to feel a little more comfortable with my teammates, feel like you are part of the team instead of off on your own doing your own thing,” Morneau said. “… It’s a close team. It’s what I missed at home watching on TV.”"
Clip courtesy of ComcastSports.Net
Morneau chose to be with his teammates instead of continuing to work on his rehabilitation on his own. This should build chemistry and prove to his teammates he is dedicated to being a leader and important part of the team when he is ready physically.
Quoted on CSNChicago.Com, Morneau said:
"“Joining a team in the middle of the year is difficult,” Morneau said. “You go through spring training and get to know each other a lot. You spend a lot of time together, so that’s kind of why I wanted to come on the road. Just feel a little more comfortable with my teammates. Feel like you are part of the team instead of off on your own doing your own thing. Hopefully I can help out in any way I can, even for my own sake to feel comfortable around the guys.”"
If the White Sox can stay in the race, Morneau should be able to contribute. The first baseman/designated hitter is two years removed from an NL batting title. He hit .310 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 183 at-bats last season in Colorado.
Having his experience in the clubhouse and on the field will be valuable in the second half of the season. Morneau has been in three postseasons, the most recent with Pittsburgh in 2013. He has a .302 career postseason average with two home runs and four RBIs.
Morneau has had a lot of success at U.S. Cellular field. He has 15 home runs and 53 RBIs in his career at the Cell. Morneau has far greater success against right-handed pitching if they decided to platoon him with Avi Garcia.
Morneau hits .297 for his career against right-handed pitching and .253 against lefties. His power stats are also significantly better against right-handed pitching. He hits a homerun every 23 at-bats against righties and every 30 at bats against righties.
Morneau started hitting off the tee on Monday and is expected to begin his minor league rehab assignment in July.