It wasn’t exactly the end to the season the Pittsburgh Pirates and Justin Morneau had in mind.
After coming to the Pirates late in the season, the former Twins first baseman lost his power stroke, failing to hit a single home run in 25 games for Pittsburgh, and driving in only three runs. His batting average, .260, came in just below his career mark of .277.
According to Sid Hartman of the Star-Tribune, Morneau is keeping his options open entering the offseason, but acknowledges that he would prefer to play for a winner, likely ruling out Minnesota, where he spent the first eleven seasons of his career.
“But as a player, all you can ask for at this point is a chance to win and somewhere that you’re going to go and have fun. There’s nothing to say that couldn’t happen in Minnesota or someone else. I’m not too sure. Obviously that’s not really the answer anyone was looking for, but I’m open right now and looking at the options and we’ll see.”
On the season, as a whole, the 32 year-old Morneau hit .259 in 152 games, adding 17 home runs and 77 RBIs. He, admittedly, is no longer the same player that won the 2006 American League MVP Award, but he still provides a potent left-handed bat in a lineup.
That season, Morneau hit .321 with 34 home runs and 130 RBIs and teammate Johan Santana picked up the Cy Young Award, becoming a rare teammate duo to sweep baseball’s two most prestigious individual awards.
Morneau could return to the Pirates, but wherever he goes, he says he still has plenty left in the tank.
“This is the best I’ve felt and I think the most games I’ve played [158 between the Twins and Pirates] since ’08,” he said. “I played 163 games in ’08 and then have been pretty banged up after that. This year I played in the World Baseball Classic, so really I’ve been playing full, intense games since the start of March and finished the year feeling pretty good. I’m excited about being able to work out this offseason and not spend half the winter rehabbing on something. I think going into this winter I’m as excited as I’ve been in the last four or five years.”