Big League Stew

Justin Morneau injury recovery ‘miles ahead’ of ’12

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(AP)

Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau made it through the 2012 season and he did OK at the plate, batting .267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs in 570 plate appearances. Not bad, considering the string of injuries — including a career-threatening concussion in 2010 — that had dogged him in previous seasons. But now, for the first time in what seems like forever, Morneau is working out ahead of spring training at full blast. Good for him. He's a sharp guy.

In an interview with 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey of the Twin Cities on Thursday, Morneau's comments were about 180 degrees in tone from those made heading into spring training 2012:

"... Everything this winter has been totally different -- no restrictions with the concussion stuff. I've been able to do everything I've wanted to do, and it's been a good feeling. I'm starting to get excited for the season, instead of feeling like I'm starting behind the 8-ball."

Morneau's words Thursday are a far cry from the ominous message he sent at the start of spring training, when the 31-year-old seemed somewhat resigned to a dim fate.

"I don't know if I'll be at full 100 percent go, but I'm going to go out there and participant in everything," Morneau said on Feb. 24. "I'll take it day by day. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow or a week from now but right now I feel good. I'll just go from here. There's not much else I can say."

The Twins have made some keen moves in the offseason that should aid their future, but Morneau's progress helps their present for sure. Morneau had been among the top sluggers in the league, and was having his best season in '10 until he got kicked in the head running the bases and had his world tipped upside down.

But at 31, Morneau is still plenty young enough to team with Joe Mauer to give the Twinkies a formidable power duo in the middle of their lineup. And the timing is good for Morneau too. He gets to play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada during spring training without any worries, and he's a major league free agent at the end of the season. In the meantime, his resurgence could help the Twins continue to rebuild with trades — if they decide to move him.

But one move at a time. Having a healthy Justin Morneau back is just good news, period.

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