Morneau's RBI tear proves he's All-Star worthy
Rockies first baseman drives in six vs. Cards, moves into second in NL
DENVER -- Maybe Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau is putting together a campaign for a midseason homecoming.
Morneau delivered six RBIs on Tuesday night at Coors Field -- three on a homer off Cardinals left-hander Nick Greenwood in the fourth inning and two on a single in the seventh inning that secured the Rockies' 10-5 victory. Morneau's 57 RBIs are second in the National League behind the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton's 58.
Could it be enough for Morneau to gain a late push to be elected as a starter in the All-Star Game, July 15 in Minneapolis -- where Morneau starred with the Twins from 2003 until he was traded to the Pirates last August? He went into this week outside the top five at his position, first base, despite his strong stats (.304 with 13 home runs, a .522 slugging percentage and a .340 on-base percentage).
"I'm aware of where the All-Star Game is," Morneau said dryly, then followed with a grin. "To go back there would be a lot of fun. It's something that, if I'm deserving enough to go there, I'd love to do it. There are a lot of guys at first base that are having good years."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 9:59 p.m. MT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Fan voting is not the only route to Minnesota. The pitchers and reserves will be chosen through a combination of player-ballot choices and selections by NL manager Mike Matheny, whose Cardinals learned first-hand how worthy Morneau may be. There's also the Final Vote sponsored by Experian, where fans can vote from a list of five players from each league during a special balloting period that begins after the rest of the team is announced.
"One thing we've got going for us is it's in an American League park," Morneau said of the NL squad. "We'll take a few extra hitters and they'll have the DH [designated hitter]. It would be fun. It's not going to be a make or break to my season, but I'd really love the opportunity if I belong."
Morneau has plenty of teammates to witness on his behalf. Injured outfielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer, an All-Star last year, could be Morneau's campaign manager. Cuddyer, a longtime teammate of Morneau with the Twins, played matchmaker between Morneau and the Rockies during the offseason. Cuddyer also refuted any notion in the media that Morneau's decreased numbers since his 2010 concussion and difficult recovery were irreversible.
"None of you guys believed me," Cuddyer told the press, before laughing. "He needed that [2013 season, a combined 152 games with the Twins and the Pirates] just to strictly get the fact that he's healthy out. Obviously, he wanted to produce, but it was more about proving to himself he could go out there and play again.
"Once he did that, he was able to go through a full offseason of training, rather than rehabbing or worrying if he could play again. It's about production now. He's been able to go out there and be the player he was."
Also, Rockies teammate Troy Tulowitzki has been named captain of the NL squad for the July 14 Gillette Home Run Derby and has said he would like to pick Morneau for his team. It would be easier if Morneau were also participating in the All-Star Game, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for a non-All-Star to participate in the event.
Tulowitzki, however, said Morneau shouldn't have to worry about being invited to the contest without being picked somehow for the game.
"There have been times when I've been pitched around, and he's been right there to come up with some big hits for us and get it done," said Tulowitzki, the NL's landslide leader at shortstop and the top vote-getter of any player in the league. "Without a doubt, he's All-Star worthy."