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Morneau, on DL since mid-May, nears return

Rockies 1B hit .500 with 2 HRs, 9 RBIs in rehab assignment

DENVER -- Back in the Rockies clubhouse, Justin Morneau was on a mission. By any means possible, he was going to attempt to talk his way into the lineup for Wednesday's series finale with the D-backs.

"Oh, he tried," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said.

Morneau didn't succeed, but after a five-game rehab stint with Double-A New Britain, the Rockies first baseman will be evaluated later in the week. He's been on the disabled list since mid-May with concussion symptoms and a cervical neck strain.

"He's close," Weiss said. "I don't know about complete clearance quite yet, but he's definitely close."

Although the Rockies have a logjam at first base -- including the likes of Matt McBride, Kyle Parker, Ben Paulsen and Wilin Rosario -- Weiss said Morneau would have the chance to show he's healthy if cleared.

The 13-year veteran is nearing the end of a two-year contract that has a $9 million mutual option for 2016 (or a $750,000 buyout), but Morneau's successes -- both in Colorado and elsewhere -- have certainly not gone unnoticed.

"For what he's done," Weiss said when asked why Morneau would potentially play over younger players. "That would be No. 1. What he's done as a player, what he's done for this team. If he's cleared to play, he's going to play.

"We've got a lot of guys. I'd imagine I'll be mixing and matching quite a bit, but if he's cleared to play, he's going to get playing time."

Although Morneau hasn't faced Major League pitching in more than three months, his bat didn't falter in New Britain. In his five games with the Rock Cats, Morneau hit .500 (9-for-18) with two homers and nine RBIs.

He also left his mark off the field.

"The Double-A manager sent me a text just raving about the way he played the game, what an impression he had in a few days on our Double-A team," Weiss said. "Those types of things we already knew, but you have somebody in New Britain confirming the things we've seen here for a couple years.

"He's a constant pro, and he's meant a lot in his couple years here."

Worth noting:

• In their second batch of September callups, the Rockies recalled right-hander relievers Brooks Brown and Justin Miller from Triple-A Albuquerque. Right-hander David Hale, who was in the clubhouse pregame, will likely be activated on Thursday.

Weiss said he doesn't expect any more callups.

"I think that's probably it," he said. "I'm not completely ruling that out, but it's probably less than 50-50 that you see anybody else."

Dargan Southard is an associate reporter for
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