Morneau making progress toward joining Chicago White Sox

It has been almost nine months since Justin Morneau last swung a bat, so the 35-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is not getting too excited after taking an estimated 50 swings with his new team, the Chicago White Sox, this weekend.

Still trying to make it all the way back from December elbow surgery, Morneau is gradually easing his way back into the batter's box.

"I think it's just seeing how it feels and making sure I'm not having any setbacks, I'm not going backwards," Morneau said. "We're running into the second part of the season, and if we have any setbacks at this point, it kind of puts us pretty far back.

"So we kind of have to pay attention to it, pain versus reinjuring, that kind of thing. Just sort of try not to overdo it. It's felt good so far, but try not to take 12 steps when you just need to take one at a time."

The next step for Morneau? He will continue taking batting practice with the White Sox through the weekend and might be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment next week.

"We'll see how b.p. goes the rest of the week," the left-handed hitter said. "As long as everything keeps going well, there's not really a timetable yet for that (rehab), but it's moving forward."

Morneau signed a one-year, $1 million contract, plus incentives, with the Sox on June 9. He batted .310 in 49 games with Colorado last season and hit .319 for the Rockies in 2014, winning the National League batting title.

"(Saturday), I was nervous hitting for the first time," Morneau said. "I couldn't remember the last time I was actually nervous taking batting practice. Then once I got into it, it felt better.

"I think there will be those steps along the way and I try to let myself know the elbow is going to hold together and be all right. Keep going through those and try to stay positive through it."

Role model:

Chris Sale was an up-and-coming star and Mark Buehrle was an established veteran when the two left-handed pitchers were White Sox teammates in 2010-11.

Buehrle, who is no longer pitching but not officially retired after spending the past three seasons with Toronto, was at Friday night's Sox-Blue Jays game, and he talked with Sale.

"It was definitely good to see him," Sale said. "It gives you a little boost. He looks good. He looks like he could pitch again."

Does Sale think Buehrle would attempt a comeback after such a lengthy layoff?

"I don't know if that's going to work," he said.

There has been some talk about the White Sox signing Buehrle so he can officially retire, but the workhorse starter might take a pass since he never was too keen on getting attention.

"For me personally, I would like to see it," Sale said. "When you think of Mark Buehrle, you think of him in a White Sox uniform. I don't think he could go out any other way, and it would especially be nice to see him in a White Sox hat when he goes to the Hall of Fame."

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