Timing is everything when it comes to Justin Morneau’s rehab assignment.
The White Sox veteran said on a conference call on Tuesday that his elbow responded well after he went 0-for-2 as the designated hitter in his season debut at Triple-A Charlotte on Monday. He’s scheduled for three more plate appearances as the Knights’ DH on Wednesday. As of now, Morneau isn’t sure when he’ll appear in the field because offense is the priority.
“We’re going to see how everything goes, but I think the hitting and the timing is the most important thing right now,” Morneau said. “We’ll try and get as many at-bats as many days in a row. The more first I play, the more days off I might need in between now. Right now it’s see how many at-bats I can get and see how quick I can get that timing down.”
Morneau -- who had elbow surgery in December -- had been working out with the team for the past few weeks. That stretch included nine days of batting practice. Morneau traveled on the last two White Sox road trips to get adjusted to his new teammates as best he could in the middle of the season.
He suggested he’d probably need somewhere between 20-30 plate appearances on a rehab assignment to feel right at the plate. While he may be able to attain that by the end of the week, manager Robin Ventura isn’t sure Morneau would be ready for the start of the second half.
“That’s very optimistic,” Ventura said. “You’re hoping he can get through it, get the timing back and that he feels good about it. That’s the biggest thing. You don’t want to rush it if it’s not the right time. He’ll know. It was good for him to be with us and be around the guys, around the game and the speed of the game. His timing, it’s always going to be up to him when he’s ready.”
One aspect of Monday’s debut that surprised Morneau -- “it was a lot more adrenaline than I thought there was going to be, which was nice,” he said. Morneau said his elbow responded well and reported no issues. While he didn’t hit the ball out of the infield in two at-bats, results aren’t of importance.
“The timing is the most important thing,” Morneau said. “You know, see pitches. The results at this point I’m not too worried about that. Obviously it’s nice to get hits, but to feel good and feel like you’re on time and feel like you’re able to catch up to the fastest pitch is really what you want to feel right now.”