Morneau, Twins playing it safe

Morneau, Twins playing it safe

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has not played since suffering a concussion on July 7 and there is still no timetable for his return.

Morneau has continued to work out at Target Field on nearly a daily basis and said he's been making slow progress. But the first baseman has yet to make it through an entire day symptom-free and Twins general manager Bill Smith said Friday that he and manager Ron Gardenhire talked with Morneau about slowing things down with his rehab.

"Every person in this organization wants Justin Morneau back in the middle of our lineup as soon as possible," Smith said. "Justin is incredibly competitive and he's champing at the bit to get back on the field. He's anxious to get out on a rehab assignment. But my biggest concern is I am not comfortable letting him go out on a rehab assignment until we are completely convinced that he is recovered, healthy and ready to do that. So I have asked everybody to slow down this process because I do not believe that he's ready to go out on a rehab right now."

The Twins originally had discussed the possibility of sending Morneau to Chicago earlier this week to take batting practice with the team before he would head out on a possible Minor League rehab assignment. But with some symptoms from the concussion still lingering, the club decided instead to have Morneau remain in Minnesota to continue his workouts.

Now rather than setting any possible dates as to when Morneau might take the next step in his rehab, the Twins want Morneau to focus only on each day.

"The one thing we want to make sure is that we cover all the bases and do all the right things with this young man," Gardenhire said. "One of the things the doctors have been saying is, a concussion you can deal with if you can get through it, but a concussion on top of a concussion is a really bad thing.

"Putting him in a situation where he can jeopardize his season, his career, his livelihood, we're just not going to do that. So we're going to let him get well and that's the right thing to do."

Morneau, who has batted .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs in 81 games this season before the injury, admitted that taking things at such a slow pace hasn't been easy, but he understands the reasoning behind the decision.

"I'm optimistic with how it's gone each day from where we've started," Morneau said. "Obviously it's taking a lot longer than we'd like. But we're making sure it's gone before we get back out there and have a chance of getting re-injured and ending up in a worse-off spot than we're at."

Morneau's current workouts have involved hitting, fielding, throwing, and some light running, but it's after the running when he's had problems with concussion symptoms returning.

Having now missed a total of 31 games with the concussion and still not knowing when he might return, Morneau was asked how he's been dealing mentally with what certainly is a frustrating situation.

"The boys keep winning, that helps, but it's tough," Morneau said. "You have to think long-term rather than short-term.

"You want to be out there. I love playing baseball and I love this organization and I'd do anything I can to help this team win. You feel kind of helpless, but you have to do what's right. I want to remember my kids being born and function in everyday life besides just being able to come in and hit a baseball."

The Twins want to ensure that Morneau can go multiple days symptom-free before they allow him to take the next step in his rehab, and Smith said that means a stretch of more than just two or three days. Smith stressed that the organization wants to make sure that Morneau is fully healthy before they allow him to get back on the field in a game situation no matter how long that takes.

Morneau was asked on Friday if he's concerned that the concussion might force him to miss the rest of the season.

"I hope not, but I have no idea," Morneau said. "When it happened I thought two days after I'd be feeling all right. The thing about this is it's unpredictable. I'm not going to say that if I come in tomorrow and everything's feeling good that I'll make it through the rest of the day. It could be next week, it could be two weeks, you never know.

"It's unpredictable and that's the part that's frustrating. If you hurt your knee, your MCL, it's four to six weeks and you do this type of rehab and if everything goes well you can be back in four weeks and kind of have that timetable. With this, it's different which each individual person."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.