02/29/12 11:55 AM EST
Morneau encouraged, feels no symptoms
Twins slugger hopeful he'll start Grapefruit opener
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Morneau said Wednesday that he's hopeful that he'll be in the starting lineup on Saturday when the Twins open Grapefruit League play against the Rays, but he's yet to receive official word from manager Ron Gardenhire.
Morneau also wanted to clarify his comments he made on Friday, when he said that if he continues to suffer from concussion-like symptoms, he won't have a career.
At first, he joked when asked if he heard about the frenzy he created on Twitter with fans worrying about his potential early retirement, asking, "What's Twitter?" He then got serious about explaining his original comments.
"I think there was a lot of positive things we talked about," Morneau said. "I was asked a question, I gave an honest answer and that was it. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if the stuff continues I probably wouldn't be able to play again. It wasn't anything other than stating the obvious.
"I also said that I don't expect that to happen. I don't anticipate that to happen. That's something that's in the back, maybe five percent, of my mind. But you have to look at all the options and everything that's happened. You kind of look to see what you want to be besides a baseball player when you're done playing. Sometimes you have control when that is and most of the time you don't.
"Most of the time, guys are still trying to play and either their body doesn't let them or whatever it is or there's other guys coming along. One of those things where I was wondering what I would be if I wasn't a baseball player."
Morneau, who sustained his initial concussion in July 2010 and suffered a setback in August of last year, added he still hasn't felt any symptoms since January.
And he said he's feeling a lot better than he did at this point last year, because he has a better gauge for how to manage his workload and avoid those symptoms.
"There was a lot more -- I don't know if stress is the word, or unsure or concern," Morneau said about how he felt during Spring Training last year. "Where I was at and how every day was going to be, you know. I think I kinda have a better idea of how I feel and what I need to do every day to try to prepare. Try to take it slowly, force myself to take it slowly because stuffed dragged on longer than it should have. I was trying to get back to full 100 percent feeling like myself the first week instead of just taking it slowly and trying to be ready for the start of the season."
For now, Morneau isn't spending his time worrying about suffering another setback because he's been participating in full workouts with the team without any issues.
He's been working out, doing fielding drills at first and taking batting practice. He also took live batting practice against left-hander Francisco Liriano on Tuesday, and fared well, hitting a homer to center field and another deep drive off the fence on his last swing of the afternoon.
He was particularly happy with hitting the homer, considering Liriano was throwing his full arsenal of pitches.
"I'd never hit a homer in [live batting practice], especially when they weren't telling us what was coming," Morneau said. "I think I've done it once when they were still telling us what was coming, but I was more encouraged by the fact that I was able to react when we didn't know what was coming. That was the positive I'll take out of that, whether the ball goes over the fence or not. It's a bonus if it does. But to stand in there and react to a fastball -- he was throwing pretty firm -- I'll take the positives out of that, and try to ignore the slider I missed by four feet."
So given the way everything has gone in camp, Morneau said he's pleased and the goal remains to continue to stay healthy and get ready for Opening Day. But he also said he'll continue to be realistic and honest about his health, because it's difficult to predict whether the concussion-like symptoms will return again.
"You take positive steps every day," Morneau said. "Obviously, it's always going to be there. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow or a week from now or a month from now, so it's the old cliché, take it one day at a time. That's really what I'm doing. As I build confidence every day and everything's going good, hopefully that stuff will be in the past by the time the season starts."