Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/18/14
Tigers_vs_twins_aee2
Justin Morneau is here. The first baseman arrived in Pittsburgh at approximately 7:50 last night and made it into the Pirates’ dugout sometime between the fifth and sixth inning. “I knew what the score was. I checked the score when I landed,” Morneau said. “We were listening to it on the radio on the way in.” When he arrived at the moment, Morneau arrived to an image that will likely be one he never forgets from his time in baseball. Justin Morneau is starting at first base today, and batting sixth.   “You look  up and see the stands full,” Morneau said. “To come in to that situation against a team you’re battling for first place with is pretty special. It’s probably something I’ll never forget.” On the other side of the coin, now, Pirates fans are hoping Morneau will provide a month of production at first base they will never forget. “I’m not a guy that really puts numbers on anything, I’m going to do whatever I can every day to help this team win and if it’s moving runners over, trying to get those guys in, trying to make a defensive play to help a pitcher out or whatever it is, that’s all I can control,” Morneau said. “I’m going to prepare and put in the effort that’s required, but whatever it takes to get into the playoffs and get back there because it’s such a special thing.” Morneau comes off his best month of the season, when he hit .250/.293/.543 with nine home runs. The Pirates expect Morneau to continue his hot hitting, as Neal Huntington received positive reports regarding his adjustments in the second half of the season. “Our guys have seen a small mechanical adjustment, and we’ve seen tangible reasons for why he’s hit nine home runs in the month of August,” Huntington said. “We’ve got some confidence he’ll be able to continue that going forward, especially as he gets out here to the Clemente Wall.” Morneau said he spoke with former Pirate and current Minnesota Twin Ryan Doumit about the dimensions of the ballpark. “He said you’re going to enjoy being able to play there on an every day basis,” Morneau said. “I think it’s probably traditionally a better park for left-handed hitters, and hopefully that’s the case.” Morneau has posted a .281/.343/.488 triple-slash with 15 home runs against right-handed pitching in 2013, and those numbers should improve with a shorter porch to hit to in right field. Down the line, the right field wall at 320′ is shorter than that in Morneau’s former home stadium of Target Field, whose right field line spanned 328′. In addition to playing in some friendlier dimensions, Morneau looks forward to playing for  Clint Hurdle after a good recommendation from former manager Ron Gardenhire, as well as Larry Walker who played for Hurdle in Colorado. “He said that was his old roommate, he said I’m going to have fun. I got a text from Larry Walker that said you’re going to enjoy playing for him, he’s a good man,” Morneau said. “I think him and Gardy are very similar, they like to enjoy the game, they like to see the game played the right way.” On Hurdle’s end, he looks forward to another player with talent as well as a good attitude in the clubhouse. “[Gardenhire] spoke volumes about his professional approach, his intent, his commitment to the game, conviction still,” Hurdle said. “He talked about this year, talked about the second half, things that are moving forward for him, things are in a good place.” While Morneau is excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Pirates’ stretch run, he leaves behind a great deal of relationships he built within the organization that drafted him in 1999. “That’s the only organization I’ve ever known. Terry was the general manager when I was drafted so I’ve known him since I was young, and Gardy’s the only manager I’ve ever known,” Morneau said. “There’s a lot of relationships there, it was tough saying good-bye. Obviously those friendships will last a lifetime.” What should mitigate the toughness of Morneau leaving the only city he’s played major league baseball for is the environment he entered last night, and will start in front of this afternoon. “You’re on your way to a team that’s playing in front of a sold-out stadium and playing for the playoffs and the division championship, and all the other fun stuff that you really play this game for,” Morneau said. “It’s something that brought a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotion that I haven’t had in a while but I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to have this opportunity.” Plenty of new faces Clint Hurdle is throwing all of his new bats in the mix today, with Marlon Byrd, John Buck, and Morneau all starting. All three hitters are next to each other in the order, too, with Byrd hitting fifth and playing left, Morneau sixth, and Buck seventh. At the top of the lineup, Hurdle is batting Neil Walker lead-off and playing Garrett Jones in right field. Promotions galore The Pirates made Kris Johnson’s recall from Triple-A Indianapolis was made official this morning, and he will start for the Pirates against Joe Kelly(6-3, 2.91). Johnson (0-1, 3.00 ERA pitched in one game earlier this season, the 16-inning affair against Arizona on Aug. 18, and allowed two runs on five hits in six innings pitched. Had he started, Johnson would’ve dealt a quality start with those numbers. In addition, the Pirates added reliever Kyle Farnsworth and outfielder Travis Snider to the active roster as rosters expanded to 40 players at midnight this morning. Lineups Pirates Neil Walker 2B Garrett Jones RF Andrew McCutchen CF Pedro Alvarez 3B Marlon Byrd LF Justin Morneau 1B John Buck C Jordy Mercer SS Kris Johnson P Cardinals Matt Carpenter 2B Shane Robinson RF Matt Holliday LF Allen Craig 1B Yadier Molina C David Freese 3B Jon Jay CF Pete Kozma SS Joe Kelly P    
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: NFL looking into Bill Belichick's camera ideas

Saints CB Brian Dixon arrested in Miami

CC Sabathia goes off about spring training stats

Kentucky remains unbeaten after thrilling win over ND

Alabama DT arrested on domestic violence charges again

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Calipari blasted for postgame interview

WATCH: MJ, Tom Brady play pickup game in Bahamas

WATCH: Wrong national anthem played for El Salvador

WATCH: Russell Wilson smashes HR in Rangers BP

John Fox: Jay Cutler will have to earn starting QB job

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

WATCH: Kris Letang hospitalized after hit

Aaron Rodgers, sports writer get into it over on-court access

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Jim McElwain complains about Florida roster

Mark Few: I put Coach K up there with John Wooden

WATCH: Enes Kanter embraces boos in return to Utah

Mariners prospect dies from boat accident injuries

T.J. Ford sends heartfelt tweet about Rick Barnes

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

CC Sabathia goes off about spring stats

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.