Justin Morneau: Can't swing bat until June

Justin Morneau had December elbow surgery, meaning his return to baseball won't come until midseason at the earliest.

The free-agent first baseman told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the surgery repaired a tendon in the elbow, and he won't be able to swing a bat until June.

"I had left elbow surgery Dec. 22," Morneau said in an email to the newspaper. "I went into the offseason thinking what I had was just tendonitis. It was a problem that began last year in spring training and that I dealt with all year. I rested like I was supposed to and was optimistic it would be better by the time it needed to be.

"I do not blame the Rockies, as we did what we thought was right at the time with the information we had. Unfortunately, once teams starting calling in the offseason and things were moving along I didn't feel confident that I was getting better so I decided to go get it checked out again on my own. After a new MRI, surgery was recommended and that was the path we chose to take."

Morneau spent the last two seasons with Colorado after a lengthy stint with the Minnesota Twins. The 34-year-old hit .310 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 2015 after a .319-17-82 season the year before.

The veteran's name had come up this week as a potential target for the Chicago White Sox, who saw first baseman Adam LaRoche retire.

Morneau said the email to the Star Tribune was written to let people know he's still interested in playing baseball once healed.

"My 5-year-old daughter asked my wife the other day, 'Do you think Daddy is sad?''' Morneau told the newspaper. "My wife asked why and she responded, 'Because he doesn't get to play baseball anymore.' So my wife asked her if she liked watching Daddy play baseball and she responded, 'I like to watch him hit.'

"Her instincts are very good, because even my 5-year-old can see how much I love to hit and play the game. It has been difficult not going through spring training and looking forward to the season starting, but I have been able to spend a lot more time with my family, so this has been a bonus.

"I miss being around my teammates and going through the work that is involved preparing for a big league season, but I believe this will be something I will always miss.'"