The 2006 AL MVP and 2014 batting champion says he will be ready after 30 at-bats. CBSChicago’s Bruce Levine reports Morneau should by ready by July 15. Morneau will suit up for the Charlotte Knights as they host Pawtucket (Red Sox) and Gwinett (Braves).
Morneau will begin his rehab assignment tonight. There is no indication if he will be at first base or be the designed hitter. The likelihood is that Morneau will start out at Designated Hitter and work in some at first base. He will primarily be the White Sox DH, but will likely give Jose Abreu some days off at first base.
Morneau has been taking batting practice for about the last week. Per the Chicago Tribune:
"“Morneau has advanced from hitting off a tee to batting practice, finally getting closer to his real swing in the last few BP sessions.”Morneau told the Tribune: “It’s exciting,” Morneau said. “I’m sure I’ll be nervous to be out there and let it fly in a game, but it will be interesting. It’s just (nerves) from putting the elbow to a real test and a swing and miss. It’s less controlled when a guy is actually trying to get me out, not trying to get me to hit it.”"
Morneau’s first at-bats will come against Pawsox left-hander Roenis Ellis. Ellis had a good rookie season in Seattle in 2014 and pitched relatively well for them last season. He was was abysmal in appearances in April and June with the Red Sox this year.
William Cuevas will pitch for Pawtucket tomorrow. The International League has not posted the pitching probables for the rest of the week. Cuevas is a right-hander that had three appearances with Boston earlier this season. He was optioned to Pawtucket last week per Soxprospects.Com.
At $1 million for one year, Morneau is worth the risk. If he doesn’t produce, the White Sox spent basically nothing and wouldn’t be obligated beyond this season. By almost any measure, the White Sox designated hitters have been in the bottom third in the American League in production this season.
Related Story: White Sox Morneau Progressing Towards Return
Morneau has 24 home runs, 88 RBIs, a .260 batting average and a .762 OPS in 560 career plate appearances at DH. The most starts he has had at DH came with the Twins in 2012. Morneau hit .244 in 34 starts and 140 plate appearances, with four home runs 17 RBIs and a .762 OPS. Being able to DH nearly every day takes a different mindset.
The White Sox will have a post all-star break west coast trip to Anaheim and Seattle.