NEWS
09/02/2015 00:19 EDT | Updated 09/01/2016 01:12 EDT

Justin Morneau may soon play for Rockies after concussion, neck strain

Justin Morneau, remember him?

For more than three months, the Colorado Rockies first baseman has been trying to recover from a strained neck and concussion symptoms.

With a month left in the regular season, there is a chance the 34-year-old New Westminster, B.C., native could return to game action as Morneau is expected to return to Colorado later this week to be evaluated.

The 2014 National League batting champion hasn't played since May 13 when he dove for a groundball and suffered a brain injury and cervical neck sprain.

Morneau, who has a $9 million US mutual option in his contract for next season, started a minor league assignment last week at double-A New Britain and is 9-for-18 in five games with two home runs and nine runs batted in for the Rock Cats.

"It would be tough going in to the off-season not having been back on the field," Rockies manager Walt Weiss told Colorado reporters earlier this week.

Weiss isn't certain Morneau would return to the team, even if his evaluation is positive, saying "these are unique circumstances. It's not like a typical guy coming off a sprained ankle or something."

At 53-77, the Rockies are not in playoff contention.

Colorado also will want to be careful not to rush Morneau back because of his concussion history.

On July 7, 2010, Morneau suffered a concussion while playing for the Minnesota Twins when his head banged against the knee of then-Toronto Blue Jays second baseman John McDonald. Morneau missed the rest of the season and much of the following campaign while dealing with concussion-related symptoms as well as other injuries.

At one point, he reported vertigo so severe that he was unable to hold his infant daughters for fear of dropping them.

Concussions and other injuries derailed Morneau's 2010 and 2011 campaigns and he struggled in 2013 with Minnesota and Pittsburgh before signing a two-year, $12.5-million US deal, with a third-year option, in Colorado.

As a youngster, Morneau was a catcher and played goalie for his hockey teams, and it's suspected he suffered many small, undiagnosed head injuries over those years.

Morneau, who was the American League MVP in 2006, hit .319 a year ago with 17 home runs and 32 doubles while driving in 82 runs in 135 games.

He was hitting .290 with three homers and nine RBIs in 27 games this season before his injury.