Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss kept the Canadian first baseman off the field Saturday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Earlier in the day, Pittsburgh third baseman Josh Harrison went 1-for-4 to give him a .318 batting average entering Sunday’s final day of the major league regular season. Teammate Andrew McCutchen went 1-for-3 and is at .314.
Did Weiss sit Morneau, who tops the league at .319, to protect his lead?
Some would say yes but Weiss, a former Rockies shortstop, told reporters on Saturday that he wanted to get September call-up Kyle Parker in the lineup for one of the weekend games.
So, Parker started in right field while outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who won the NL batting crown last season with a .331 average, manned first base.
It’s possible Morneau could sit again for Sunday’s 4:10 p.m. ET contest, depending if the New Westminster, B.C. native is still the batting leader. The Pirates wrap up their series at Cincinnati in a 1:10 p.m. start.
“We’ll see where he stands at that point,” said Weiss of the 33-year-old Morneau. “He has worked very hard to put himself in this position.
“People talk about backing into a batting title and all of that stuff. I don’t think there is such a thing. It takes six months to win it.”
Scheduled to start against Colorado on Sunday is Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke, who sports a 16-8 record and 2.74 earned-run average this season. He’s also owned the left-handed hitting Morneau, holding him to a .200 average (9-for-45).
In Cincinnati, the Reds are expected to start 19 game winner Johnny Cueto, who boasts a 2.29 ERA this season, against Harrison and McCutchen. Harrison is 6-for-14 (.429) in his career versus Cueto while McCutchen is 16-for-56 (.286) with four home runs.
Morneau, who was the American League MVP in 2006, is vying for his first batting crown. If successful, he would be the seventh different Colorado player to win. Fellow Canadian Larry Walker did it in a Rockies uniform in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
Recently, Walker sent Morneau a picture of a bat he received after winning one of his batting titles.
“I was gonna send a picture of all three of them,” Walker told CBCSports.ca earlier this week, “but only one of them is still shiny, one’s really tarnished and I don’t know where the third one is.”
In a more serious tone, the native of Maple Ridge, B.C., said it would only be human nature for Morneau to find out how Harrison and McCutchen fared on Sunday before Colorado faced the Dodgers.
“If he sees an 0-for-4 [beside Harrison’s name] it might ease his mind,” Walker said. “If he sees a 2-for-3, it might pump him up more and bring back that competitive edge that he’s wishing he had if he was in a pennant race.”
That’s providing Morneau even steps to the plate on Sunday.