FORT MYERS, Fla. — There was a Logan Morrison sighting in the Twins’ clubhouse on Tuesday. Not Minnesota’s new slugging first baseman, but the red Twins jersey he’ll wear once his signing becomes official. And that jersey is notable for more reasons than one.
With camp already underway and only traditionally pitchers’ numbers available — 62 appears to be the lowest unclaimed number on the roster at the moment — Morrison has chosen No. 99, at least for spring training.
He could choose to claim another number as the 25-man roster is whittled down, but it’s unlikely that any of his previous numbers will become available. Morrison wore 20 with both the Marlins and Mariners, but that belongs to Eddie Rosario. He switched to 5 for a couple of seasons in Miami, but that’s Eduardo Escobar’s number. And the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, he’s sported No. 7, but that one hasn’t been available since 2004, Joe Mauer’s rookie season.
So Morrison chose an unconventional route, at least with this franchise. Aaron Judge sports 99 for the Yankees, and Mitch Williams was wearing 99 when he delivered the pitch that Joe Carter launched into the Skydome seats in 1993, delivering a world championship for Twins manager Paul Molitor (who was standing on third base). Others who have worn the number that’s probably most associated with hockey great Wayne Gretzky: So Taguchi, Manny Ramirez during his Dodgers years, and reliever Turk Wendell.
But no Twins. In fact, no Twins player has claimed a number higher than the 77 that Tony Batista wore in 2006. Hector Santiago’s 66 last season was the highest by a Twin in a decade, with only Joe Roa (71), Pat Neshek (72) and Batista ever eclipsing 70.
Coincidentally, Erick Aybar claimed No. 0 when he signed last week; only Junior Ortiz in 1990-91 has ever worn that one.
The sense around camp is that Morrison will wear that uniform beginning tomorrow. If you’re wondering how a guy who averaged 12 homers a season suddenly hit 38 last year with the Rays, Star Tribune analytics writer Chris Hine has a good primer on launch angle.
Meanwhile, the Twins will take on the Red Sox tonight — well, some of them anyway; it’s a split-squad day for the Sox, who also played St. Louis at JetBlue Stadium this afternoon — at Hammond Stadium, in a game that will be simulcast on WCCO and Fox Sports North. It’s the spring debut for a handful of pitchers, including Jose Berrios and Anibal Sanchez.
A couple of pitching notes from camp: Michael Pineda played catch from 75 feet today, another step in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery. And Trevor May, coming back from similar surgery, mixed in some changeups for the first time in a 35-pitch bullpen session on Monday.
Here is the Twins’ lineup for tonight’s game:
De Jesus 2B
Berrios RHP, then Sanchez, Hildenberger, Rogers, Moya, Curtiss, Jake Reed.