FORT MYERS, Fla. — Coming off two injury filled seasons, Justin Morneau is struggling at the plate in spring training.
After going 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a walk in the Minnesota Twins’ 8-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Monday, the former AL MVP is 3 for 30 with no extra-base hits.
“The swing’s getting better. The swing feels a lot better than it did when I first got down here,” he said. “It’s a process, it’s moving along. I just have to keep telling myself that it’s slow, and just because it’s not here now doesn’t mean it’s not going to be here a week from now.”
Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, was limited to 81 games in 2010 and 69 last year due to concussion symptoms and operations on his neck, left wrist, left knee and right foot. Only the wrist has bothered him during spring training.
“I’m trying to work on my swing, and get the feel back to where I need to be, and if I swing too much, it gets irritated. So it’s kind of a fine line,” he said. “They told me I can’t do any damage to it. It just might slow down the process of feeling good if I do too much.”
He’s been a designated hitter in order to get as many at-bats during a time many regulars only play every other day.
“We’ve still got two weeks left, so there’s still a lot of time for at-bats,” Morneau said. “And still a lot of time if I want to go over to the minor league side (where) if I want to get seven or eight at-bats in a game, I can do that.”
Left-hander Felix Doubront, competing for the fifth spot in the Red Sox rotation, allowed two runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings with three strikeouts and a walk. He allowed runners in each of his four full innings.
“I thought there was a lot that was going on there with Felix,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “One, he did have men on base and never gave in, kept throwing the same kind of pitches. Two, he was able to work from behind, when he got behind, pretty well. And he was able to get ahead those other times really well, like 1-2. I stopped counting after like six one-ball-two-strike counts. But I didn’t see the nastiness 1-2, that killer pitch, that stuff that differentiates a lot of guys. And I’d like to see if he has it.”
Twins starter Jason Marquis allowed three runs, five hits and two walks in four innings with two strikeouts.
“He was good, got ground balls,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The runs they scored, they had opportunities, a couple double play balls. That one came up and took a hop on (shortstop) Jamey (Carroll).”
Pinch-hitter Joe Benson put the Twins ahead with a three-run double in the sixth off loser Mark Melancon, who allowed three runs and three hits in one inning. Winner Jared Burton pitched a scoreless fifth.
NOTES: Red Sox LF Carl Crawford took 20 swings with a bat at a ball on tee. He also has a throwing program but is not bunting yet. … Boston SS Jose Iglesias was 0 for 3. He had not played since March 10 because of a right groin strain. … OF Ryan Kalish, rehabbing from neck and shoulder operations, swung at a ball on a tee and also did some throwing. … Red Sox C Jarrod Saltalamacchia was back in the lineup for back-to-back games after resting with bursitis in his left hip. … Red Sox LHP Franklin Morales, who has been slowed by his shoulder, is to throw BP Wednesday. … The Twins optioned RHP Carlos Gutierrez, INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka and OF Rene Tosoni to Triple-A Rochester. RHPs Jason Bulger, Luis Perdome, Daryl Thompson, Esmerling Vasquez and P.J. Walters; Cs Chris Herrmann and Dan Rohlfing; INF Aaron Bates and OF Wilkin Ramirez were reassigned to minor league camp. … Twins OF Trevor Plouffe has a slight hamstring strain and is to be re-examined Wednesday. … Twins RHP Scott Baker threw a bullpen session and is to throw two innings in a minor league game on Thursday. … Twins LHP Phil Dumatrait has a sore shoulder.