Morneau enjoying success with White Sox

Former AL MVP pleased with his comeback from elbow surgery

Morneau enjoying success with White Sox

KANSAS CITY -- Justin Morneau is enjoying life with the White Sox, a second career of sorts for the one-time American League MVP and National League batting champ after coming back from offseason surgery to repair his left elbow.

Morneau is having enough fun that he let out a laugh during Wednesday's pregame when asked about any thoughts of baseball beyond this season -- based on his .300 average and .851 OPS through 20 games. Morneau joined the White Sox on a one-year, $1 million deal plus incentives.

"The way I answer this question usually when the people around here or the guys I'm playing against [ask] ... just trying to get through today," a smiling Morneau said. "It's a battle. As long as I'm still enjoying it and enjoying the work, I'll probably assess that toward the end of September.

"But to be able to come out and work the way I used to work ... I'm someone that enjoys spending time in the cage and all that kind of stuff. I've been able to do that. That was the most frustrating part about last year: I couldn't take the amount of swings that I wanted and that was kind of what had me questioning whether or not I would enjoy playing again."

This enjoyment and return to regular work for the 35-year-old, one-time American League Central White Sox nemesis manifested itself in four hits during Tuesday's 7-5 win in 10 innings over the Royals, marking the 17th four-hit game of Morneau's career. His .333 average since July 20 is tied for 12th-best in the AL, and it was Morneau's one-out double off of Kelvin Herrera in the 10th that set up Todd Frazier to hit the go-ahead three-run home run.

Having a potential power bat from the left side in the middle of the order is something the White Sox missed since Adam LaRoche's Spring Training retirement. With LaRoche's 2015 struggles, it wasn't featured prominently last season either.

"Just consistency. Just a professional," Frazier said of Morneau. "Guy has been doing it for years. You look up to a guy like that. I have the best view in the house. I'm hitting right behind him, and you see the battles he goes through and the at-bats, and he finds a way to do it. Couldn't ask for anything better."

"It has been a little bit of up and down, but for it to come back as quick as it did at the beginning, it was a little surprising the way it worked," said Morneau, who had eight Minor League games and 23 at-bats before returning to the Majors. "It was nice to be able to go up there and now be settled into a routine and feel like I can take the amount of swings I want to take without being restricted by the elbow or anything like that."

Staying on top of the elbow remains a priority, with Morneau still in the recovery process, but pleased with the progress. He's happy enough to briefly acknowledge thoughts about baseball in 2017 while thriving in the present.

"I've been able to do things that I wanted to do, so I'll make that decision at a later point," Morneau said. "But for right now, it has been fun."

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.