BLAINE, Minn. -- Justin Morneau may not have been in attendance at TwinsFest this year, but his health was certainly on the minds of all Twins fans.Twins general manager Bill Smith asked Morneau to stay in Arizona to continue with his workouts rather than travel to Minnesota for the fan festival, as the first baseman continues his recovery from a concussion that ended his season last July. The Twins and Morneau have both spoken recently about him making progress this offseason, but one person who has gotten to see it firsthand is Twins Minor League outfielder Rene Tosoni. The British Columbia native has spent the past couple of weeks living with Morneau at his home near Phoenix, and has been working out with the first baseman. "It seems like every day he's getting better," Tosoni said. "Since I've been down there, we're working out full tilt. Nothing is stopping him. He's never said anything to me about his injury or anything. I think everything is good." Tosoni said the two haven't talked much about the respective injuries that halted their 2010 seasons. Like Morneau, Tosoni also saw his year come to an early end due to a shoulder injury. He underwent surgery in June to repair a torn labrum and some fraying on his rotator cuff. But both are now in the gym together and completing their workouts at the Fischer Sports facility in Phoenix in preparation for Spring Training. "It's not like he's sitting out of any workouts -- and these workouts are not easy," Tosoni said. "I hadn't worked out at Fischer Sports before. This is my first year, and I feel like my heart rate is going the whole time. He's in there with us the whole way. He doesn't complain about anything. "He's been throwing with me, and I think this week he's going to start hitting. He's been telling me he's excited about the season." The Twins certainly aren't pushing Morneau, who has not played in a game since July 7 -- when he suffered his concussion in a game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Smith has stressed that the team is focused on the first baseman being ready for Opening Day at Toronto and not necessarily worrying about any specific milestones during Spring Training. "You can circle April 1 on the calendar, that's the day we're shooting for to get him ready," Smith said during a radio interview with ESPN 1500 this weekend at TwinsFest. "It's still a work in progress. He is not 100 percent, but I've talked to his doctors, I've talked to him. He's getting better all the time."
Gardenhire plans to give Span more rest
BLAINE, Minn. -- One thing that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would like to do this season is to give center fielder Denard Span more consistent breaks.Last year, Span started in center for the club's first 62 games of the season. He did not get his first day off until June 13, when Michael Cuddyer made his only start in center field. Gardenhire said this weekend that he would like to use backup outfielder Jason Repko to provide Span with more opportunities for a breather. It's something he tried to do after Repko arrived in the Majors in late June of last year. "I can do a better job as a manager giving him breaks," Gardenhire said of Span. "I think he wore down at the end of the season. He had a lot of at-bats. He takes a lot of pitches, does a lot of things for his teammates and puts himself in a hole to make sure that they see pitches. He does his job. Now, it's my job to make sure I rest him a little bit more, and give him the breaks he needs to get the best out of him." Span said that his approach to the season won't change, even if Gardenhire plans to give him a few more days off early in the year. "I prepare myself mentally and physically during the offseason to play every day," Span said. "I think every player now and then wouldn't mind a breather. But I don't go into the season saying I want to play 150 games. I strive to play 162 games every year."
TwinsFest 2011 concludes successfully
BLAINE, Minn. -- TwinsFest 2011 wrapped up its three days at the National Sports Center on Sunday afternoon. Despite having to change venues a month prior to the event, due to the Metrodome's roof collapse, the Twins felt that everything went smoothly."I think from all early accounts, it was great," said Kevin Smith, the Twins' executive director of public affairs. "The fact that the National Sports Center staff and the Twins staff could put this together in four weeks was amazing. Everyone worked well together. We did the best we could with the venue -- and I think from everything I've heard, it's been an overwhelming success." The Twins drew around 25,000 fans to the event, having capped ticket sales at that amount due to the smaller size of the National Sports Center. More than 60 former, current and future Twins players were on hand for this year's event, which is the largest annual fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund. While the event was smaller than in years, that didn't prevent the club from adding new features, either. On Sunday, the Twins held a "Tweet and Greet" for fans who follow the club's official Twitter account @minnesotatwins. Anyone who received their tweet got a chance to meet Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and Drew Butera -- three Twins players who are now currently on Twitter. More than 100 fans attended the tweet-up.
TwinsFest finished for manager Ron Gardenhire on Sunday afternoon, but the skipper is prepping for his next adventure later this week. Gardenhire is taking part for the ninth straight year in the Black Woods Blizzard Tour, which is a snowmobile ride to raise money for ALS. The event begins on Wednesday and runs through Saturday. Also taking part in the event are Kent Hrbek, Joe Vavra and Terry Steinbach. Pledges are still being accepted by visiting the Blizzard Tour's website. ... Gardenhire said this weekend that Tsuyoshi Nishioka profiles as a No. 1 or 2 hitter. And with Denard Span locked in as the Twins' leadoff hitter, it appears likely that Nishioka could fill that second spot in the order.