Morneau likens return process to Spring Training

Morneau likens return process to Spring Training

CHICAGO -- First baseman Justin Morneau spoke to the media before Sunday's game about his ongoing rehab from offseason surgery to repair the primary flexor in his left elbow. But on Tuesday, with the Twins -- with whom he spent 11 seasons and hit 221 of his 241 career home runs -- in town for three games, he was a topic of conversation again.

"It will be different when I'm playing," said Morneau of facing the Twins. "I played against them when I was in Colorado. It was a little weird.

"There's not too many guys left there. I know a lot of the guys, but there's not too many left that I actually played on the same team with."

As Morneau mentioned on Sunday, he's getting closer to a big league return. He'll continue to take on-field batting practice throughout the White Sox weekend trip to Houston and could then begin a Minor League rehab assignment.

The process Morneau is going through is like that of Spring Training as he tries to get ready for a return after the All-Star break.

"You go into Spring Training, you get two at-bats, you get a day off, you get two at-bats, you have a day off. You kind of go through that whole thing of stretching it out," he said. "The total number of at-bats, I think it's more of that point at the end of the spring where you get four or five days in a row where you're getting at-bats and you're seeing pitching every day. That's where the timing starts to come, at least for me.

"I don't know how many days that's going to take. Once I go on a rehab assignment, I can't see it being less than 30 at-bats before I'll be ready. But who knows? I could feel great after 20 or whatever. To say less than that would probably be pushing it a little too much."

Abreu remains confident

Jose Abreu had reached base in 20 straight games before going 0-for-4 in Sunday's victory over the Blue Jays. He has a .310 average, 20 RBIs and a .920 OPS in June, quickly turning around after a slow start offensively to the season.

"I like to check the stats and compare where I am this season and the last two seasons," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "When you check my numbers in my first season, before the All-Star [break], you say, 'Oh, pretty good numbers.' I don't know why the last two seasons I wasn't able to match those, but I've got very good numbers, too.

"It's just baseball. Sometimes you have a very good first [half] and sometimes you don't have a very good second half, and vice versa. But obviously, I haven't had the same numbers that I had in the first year before the All-Star break."

Abreu feels good physically, using days off on Friday and Monday to get his sore legs into a healthier spot.

"My off-days aren't completely off. I still do my daily workout," he said. "My off-days are off because I'm not playing -- I'm not doing anything related to baseball."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.