Veteran first baseman Justin Morneau isn’t calling it quits yet, officially, but it sounds as if he has largely accepted that he likely won’t suit up again in the majors. In the course of a great chat on the podcast of Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca (audio link), Morneau says it seemed at points last spring and even into the season that he might have a shot at joining an organization. Ultimately, though, things simply “didn’t line up” for the 36-year-old, who says he wasn’t really “willing to go down to Triple-A and ride the bus” at this stage, given his family obligations. A 14-year MLB veteran, Morneau long starred with the Twins and played most recently with the White Sox. Though he showed in 2016 that he can still hit major league pitching, he acknowledges that it “doesn’t look like there’s a lot of opportunities” out there for the coming season. (That’s a topic that’s covered further in the podcast, which is well worth a listen.)
Here are some notes from the central divisions:
- The Royals face a variety of challenges this winter, with a need to bolster the bullpen likely among them. But the team does have an intriguing option on hand in indy ball find Kevin Lenik, writes Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. The 26-year-old is showing a big fastball and generated strong results upon reaching Triple-A, where he pitched to a 1.88 ERA with 24 strikeouts and eight walks over 24 frames in a dozen outings. Assistant GM J.J. Picollo suggests it’s likely (albeit still undecided) that Lenik will receive an invitation to MLB camp.
- Buddy Bell has left the White Sox front office to join that of the Reds, as Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. Bell had served as an assistant GM in Chicago and will now function as a senior advisor to top Reds baseball decisionmaker Dick Williams. A long-time big leaguer and former MLB skipper, Bell drew kind words from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on his way out the door. As Kuc notes, Bell has roots in Cincinnati and figures to make for a valuable addition to the organization’s front office.