Neck improved, Morneau returns to Rockies

Neck improved, Morneau returns to Rockies

CHICAGO -- Justin Morneau's neck might not be better than ever, but it's better than it's been at any point this season, and the Rockies activated him from the 15-day disabled list and inserted him into the lineup on Tuesday, a day after he went 2-for-4 in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Morneau wasted no time making an impact, hitting a two-run double off Chicago starter Edwin Jackson in the first inning.

Morneau's start on Tuesday against the Cubs also comes a day after an MRI gave him some peace of mind. In 2011, while with the Twins, he underwent surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment and often deals with strains and stiffness, so anything involving his neck is a concern.

"That was good news to see that in some ways my spine is actually better," said Morneau prior to his first game since before the All-Star break. "Hopefully, it continues to get better."

Morneau went 2-for-4 against Round Rock on Monday and tested his neck and body in a variety of ways.

"It was a real test," said Morneau, who is batting .312 with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs. "I hit the ball well and came back well. I ran around and came back good. Batting practice is one thing, when you're hitting fastballs, but when you get in games and see offspeed pitches, that's when you know."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.