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Morrison getting back to form, back to basics

Morrison getting back to form, back to basics

Morrison getting back to form, back to basics

MIAMI -- Running hasn't been an issue for Logan Morrison. It's stopping that causes the Marlins' first baseman a bit of apprehension.

Nonetheless, the 25-year-old has no intention of slowing down.

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On the field, Morrison offers all-out hustle, pushing hard on even his most routine groundouts. Off the field, he does plenty of icing.

Undergoing two knee surgeries in less than a one-year span understandably creates some doubt in a player when it comes to sprinting at full speed.

Morrison is most mindful when he puts on the brakes, because his right knee hasn't been right in two years.

"I'm way healthier than last year," Morrison said. "My knee feels way better than it did in 2011."

Injuries are part of the game, and Morrison recognizes that you are not always going to be at full strength. Plus, dealing with a couple of surgeries and adversity has given him a renewed outlook for the game.

"I'm glad I'm living my dream," he said. "I definitely appreciate the game more just because of what's happened."

Having Morrison back in the lineup also has the Marlins feeling better about their chances of improving as the season progresses.

The Marlins are 6-4 in the 10 games Morrison has played since his return from the 60-day disabled list on June 9. He's making solid contributions at the plate, batting .286 with a .342 on-base percentage, one homer, two doubles and a triple. Additionally, he has scored five runs and driven in four.

It's been a rough first half for Miami, largely because of injuries. Not coincidentally, having Morrison, Giancarlo Stanton and Nathan Eovaldi back from the disabled list this month has directly led to a 11-9 record in June.

"Having LoMo hitting behind Stanton, that gives us another weapon," manager Mike Redmond said. "That gives us a guy who can drive the ball out of the ballpark, and put the ball in the gap. If the guys get on in front of him, now you've got a couple of guys who can do some damage."

After missing so much time, Morrison is being eased back into action. Redmond is giving him periodic days to rest, and Miami was off on Monday before facing the Twins at Marlins Park on Tuesday.

The Marlins are coming off a 4-3 road trip, and Morrison started all four games at San Francisco, an encouraging sign. In a 6-3 win last Friday, he hit a home run and triple, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

The home run off Tim Lincecum was Morrison's first in the big leagues since July 6, 2012. But it hasn't lured him into thinking he will provide instant power.

"I'm not trying to get 30 home runs this year or 20 home runs, I'm just trying to have good at-bats and put the barrel on the ball," Morrison said.

Missing so much time has brought Morrison back to the basics.

"I'm not trying to think about this number or I need to get to that number," he said. "I'm just trying to think about putting the barrel on the ball. If they go out, they go out. If they don't, they don't.

"If we win games, I'll be happy, and it doesn't really matter what my numbers are. As long as I'm helping the team win, I'm good with it."

There is always uncertainty when a player recovers from surgery. In Morrison's case, he is dealing with trying to rebound from two to the same knee.

A year ago, he was shut down on July 28 because the pain in his knee was so severe.

The long recovery period forced him to miss all of Spring Training, and to open the season on the 60-day DL.

Hitting coach Tino Martinez didn't work once with Morrison in the spring, because the first baseman was not ready for full baseball activities.

"First of all, I had no idea what to expect," Martinez said. "I'd seen him on video from the past couple of years. I had never seen him play live. I know the expectation levels for him were high. I know he had a good year a couple of years ago."

As a rookie in 2010, Morrison batted .283 in 62 games after he was promoted from Triple-A New Orleans. His numbers declined in 2011 -- when he batted .247 -- but he showed more power, hitting 23 home runs and driving in 72 runs.

In September of 2011, he initially hurt his right knee after smashing it into the wall at Pittsburgh. His first knee surgery came three months later.

Since returning, Morrison is showing signs of what made him such a highly-regarded prospect three years ago.

"I see a guy who has a great game plan at the plate," Martinez said. "He works the pitchers. He works the count. He gets the pitches he wants to hit. He uses the whole field."

In the Minor Leagues, Morrison was successful hitting gap-to-gap. But he lost that approach in the big leagues, partly because he was playing in spacious Sun Life Stadium his first two seasons, and now Marlins Park. With so much room in center field, long drives were being caught.

"He got pull-conscious, pull-happy the past couple of years, because he lost a lot of home runs out there in left field because balls were caught," Martinez said. "He started pulling the ball more. Now, he seems to be going the other way, using the whole field. He's told me that's his new approach. He has a great swing."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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