Notes: Morneau back with Twins
Suffering from lung contusion, slugger expected to return soon
MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau was back on the Twins bench Tuesday night, but it still will be a few more days before he returns to the playing field.Morneau admitted he would like to return to the field as soon as possible, but he's going to follow the doctors' instructions so as not to suffer any setbacks. This was the first time Morneau had spoken with the media since colliding with Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo at home plate on Friday night. The Twins first baseman spent three nights in a Miami-area hospital due to the contusion -- or bruise -- he suffered on his right lung. And the seriousness of the situation was not lost on Morneau. "It was pretty scary," Morneau said. "After it happened, I just thought I had the wind knocked out of me, but when I got back to the dugout, I started coughing and spitting blood. Any time that happens it's really scary." Morneau met with the team's doctors just before Tuesday night's game vs. the Blue Jays. They went over the tests Morneau had done earlier that morning. After the game, it was determined that Morneau would see more doctors on Wednesday in order to set up a further course of action for the first baseman.
The contusion on his right lung was still visible on a CT scan, Morneau said, but the doctors told him that it showed improvement from the initial injury. There is some lingering soreness that Morneau has in his chest, but the first baseman said it's much less than right after suffering the injury. Still, the reason for the cautiousness is that the doctors don't want the contusion to begin bleeding again.And yes, Morneau has seen the hit quite a few times. And he admits, it's certainly not his proudest moment as a player. "It was a little embarrassing," Morneau said of the play. "When you run into a catcher, he's supposed to fall over, not you." Morneau has received his fair share of chiding since the play. During Morneau's session with the media, Blue Jays first baseman and Canadian native Matt Stairs even got in on the act. Stairs joked that Morneau's injury occurred because he was a hockey goalie instead of a forward or defenseman. Morneau also said he got plenty of text messages from many of his friends, including former teammate Corey Koskie. "Koskie asked me if I wanted him to come over and he could teach me how to run into the catcher," Morneau said with a laugh. "He said he could set his kids up [to help learn] and start with the youngest one, who is like 1 1/2 years old." Who's on first: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was unsure just how he would shuffle his lineup following a rash of injuries for his club on Monday night.
So when Gardenhire walked through the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and his starting right fielder, Michael Cuddyer, offered his services at any position, the skipper gladly took him up on the offer."[Cuddyer] said he was going to come in to my office to see me," Gardenhire said. "He said, 'Second base, first base, wherever you need me,' and I said, 'Good, first base.'" Despite not having played first base since June 7, 2006, at Seattle, Cuddyer didn't have any hesitation taking over at the spot. "It's a totally different ballgame in the infield but I've played it enough," Cuddyer said. "I'm not going to be a Gold Glover over there tonight, but hopefully I'll be able to fill in OK." Jeff Cirillo had filled in at first base since Morneau's injury. But it was lingering soreness in Cirillo's knees that caused Gardenhire to give the infielder a day of rest. "Obviously he's fighting his legs," Gardenhire said. "We've played him a lot of games in a row. It was about that time." Despite getting his hand spiked on a play at home plate, second baseman Luis Castillo was back in the lineup on Tuesday. Castillo had his left hand wrapped in a bandage and there was still some swelling, but Castillo said he was good to go. Still short a dozen: After Kevin Slowey went just five innings in Monday's loss, Gardenhire also expressed his concern over the Twins bullpen possibly getting overused. Matt Guerrier saw his 14-inning scoreless streak end in the loss, but he said that he didn't feel that the bullpen was getting fatigued. Gardenhire said it's more than just players saying they are OK that signals the bullpen is rested enough. "We're going through a long stretch of games here, and throwing one and two innings a night, how long will they feel fine?" Gardenhire said. "They are all gamers down there. They'll take the ball anytime. But will you be able to throw when you're well rested? That's what we are concerned about. They'll tell you they are fine all the time but they have to have stuff to go with it." The ideal solution would be to add another arm to the 'pen, but with the current injury status, Gardenhire said the team can't afford to lose a position player at the moment to return to 12 pitchers. "Goodness gracious, right now I barely have enough players to put out there," Gardenhire said. Twins tidbits: After completing a string of successful workouts in Fort Myers, Fla., Rondell White will begin his Minor League rehab assignment on Wednesday with the Gulf Coast League Twins. ... Morneau was honored before Tuesday's game with the SHARP American League Player of the Month for May. He received a huge ovation from the Metrodome crowd when he stepped onto the field. ... Two of the Twins players are up for the Best Baseball Player ESPY award giving by ESPN. Morneau and Johan Santana are among the nominees along with Deter Jeter, Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols. The awards are scheduled for July 11. Down on the farm: Left-hander Dave Gassner gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings, as Triple-A Rochester lost at Charlotte, 6-2. Garrett Jones belted his 11th home run of the season, a solo shot in the second inning. ... Third baseman Matt Moses went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in Double-A New Britain's 5-2 win at Connecticut. It was Moses' fourth game with the Rock Cats since being demoted from Rochester. ... Class A Fort Myers tallied just four hits in a 4-0 loss at Palm Beach. Zach Ward gave up two earned runs over six innings to take the loss. ... Eli Tintor went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in Class A Beloit's 9-5 loss at Cedar Rapids. Coming up: Boof Bonser (5-3, 4.45 ERA) will try to deliver his first quality start in nearly a month when he faces the Blue Jays on Wednesday night in a 7:10 p.m. CT start. Right-hander Josh Towers (2-5, 5.75) will get the start for Toronto.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.