Morrison ready to hit — and tweet — for the Mariners
New Mariners 1B/OF Logan Morrison is healthy, which is a nice change, after a couple of seasons hindered by knee injuries. Now he’s just looking to find a spot in the Seattle lineup.
/ Seattle Times columnist
PEORIA, Ariz. – So far in his career, Logan Morrison has been noted mostly for his potential, and the injuries that have kept him from fully realizing it.
Well, that and being one of the most prolific, provocative and popular tweeters in baseball — a distinction that admittedly doesn’t have a long tradition to draw from. Morrison’s “CupOfLoMo” Twitter account, renamed after his December trade to Seattle from Miami for reliever Carter Capps, has more than 122,000 followers.
At times, Morrison’s tweets have raised eyebrows, but his agent, Fred Wray, points out that he was at the forefront of a new social medium, feeling his way as something of a pioneer.
“People hadn’t wrapped their arms around what Twitter could be,’’ Wray said. “A lot of people were leery. Now all the teams use it, and all players have Twitter accounts. Logan was ahead of it; he was like the older brother who gets in trouble, and the younger brother has an easier path with mom and dad.”
Morrison says he’s being low-key about tweeting at the moment. It’s not that he’s had a change of heart about sharing his sometimes politically incorrect observations; it’s just that being in camp with a new team, and romping after workouts with his new puppy, a boxer named Stella, is taking up most of his time.
That probably is just fine with Morrison’s new manager, Lloyd McClendon, who had this to say about Twitter, in general, last week: “One thing I told our guys, if I have to deal with it, then it’s a problem. Do what you want to do, but be responsible, and understand you represent the Seattle Mariners, and if it gets back to me, then we got a problem.”
Morrison said he finds that stance perfectly reasonable.
“He doesn’t need to deal with that stuff,’’ he said. “He’s got enough to worry about managing 25 egos, and trying to get guys playing time that want it, and all that stuff. I don’t blame him.”
Morrison, 26, is one of those guys yearning for playing time, particularly after being limited to 93 and 85 games with the Marlins the past two seasons because of knee problems.
Morrison seemed headed to stardom after putting up an .837 OPS in 62 games as a rookie in 2010, followed by a 23-homer campaign in 2011. That latter season was marred by a controversial demotion to the minors in August while Morrison was leading the team in RBI. Media reports at the time related the demotion to friction between Morrison and the front office.
Morrison declined to specifically address the issue, saying there is still a grievance pending. But he doesn’t believe his demotion was performance based.
“I was hitting third that night, and when I was called back up, I was hitting third again,’’ he said. “I was leading the team in RBI. So, no, it was not performance based.”
Morrison underwent his first right knee operation in November 2011, and another, a full repair of the patella tendon, in September 2012. The injury, and his efforts to come back from it — arguably too quickly — led to two rough years. He hit .230 in 2012, and .242 in 2013, with a combined 17 homers, disappointing for a player who had seemingly been developing into a front-line slugger.
“Playing against the best is hard enough,’’ Morrison said of his knee injury. “Then when you’re playing guarded, you’re playing like, ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘I can’t do that,’ it limits yourself, that’s all it does.
“It’s not fun. The only thing fun about it is you get to compete against the best. But there’s a lot of frustration, and a lot of self-talking, ‘You’re better than this, what are you doing?’ Tough stuff. I’m sure there’ll still be more of that this year. It’s just that now it won’t be because of my knee; it will be because I’m a mental midget.”
That was a joke, by the way. Morrison has a way with the quip, and an outgoing manner which has led some to portray him as a player that enjoys the spotlight. To which Morrison has a clarification.
“I would say if the spotlight is on us, that means we’re doing well,’’ he said. “And if we’re doing well, then I enjoy that, yes. Do I go and search for it? No. I just am who I am. I was a military kid, so I was raised in 17 different cities, so I had to be outgoing, and know people.
“I think that’s just kind of how it’s been. If someone asks me to do some media stuff, I never really turn them down. I guess if you call that searching it out, then yeah.”
Morrison admits that 17 cities is an exaggeration, but the list is pretty extensive: Kansas City, Key West, Fla., Newport News, Va., Wilmington, N.C., back to Kansas City, then Slidell, La., where his mom still resides.
Morrison’s father died of lung cancer in 2010, an event that had a profound influence and has guided Morrison toward charitable causes related to cancer research. He was a two-time nominee for the Clemente Award for community service, as well as a finalist for the Hutch Award while with the Marlins. That’s fortuitous in light of his trade to Seattle, where he plans to be involved with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, for which the Hutch Award is named.
“All that stuff’s important to me,’’ he said. “Having a personal, I guess, attachment — I don’t know a better word for it — to lung cancer. I’ve seen one of the strongest men I ever knew just wither away in front of me. It does stuff to you. I know what it did to me and my family. That’s kind of why I got into it. I wanted to try to limit other families having to go through it.”
So far this spring, Morrison says his knee is feeling good. McClendon has limited him to first-base drills to try to keep it that way, but says he’ll give Morrison work in the outfield as spring progresses. Health and performance will dictate playing time for the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Morrison, whom the Mariners hope will provide a potent left-handed bat.
Wray points out that this was the first offseason since 2010 that Morrison has been healthy enough to work out without constraints.
“It’s like you’ve seen half a man out there, because he hasn’t had his legs,’’ Wray said. “This is the first chance he’s had to get in the weight room and hit it at his pace, as opposed to one dictated by the medical staff. You’ll see the old Logan back — but a more mature, experienced one.”
Asked if he still thinks of himself as an outfielder, Morrison replied, “I think of myself as a baseball player. If I’m in the lineup every day, I’m good with that. I don’t care where it is. Hopefully, it’s not catching or center field, or I might be in trouble. ... It doesn’t matter where I’m at, I just want to play.”
And maybe tweet about it afterward.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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