Twins unsure if Morneau will return this season

Twins unsure if Morneau will return this season

KANSAS CITY -- The Twins still aren't sure if first baseman Justin Morneau will play again this season as he recovers from lingering concussion symptoms. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that it's tough to know when a player is ready to go after a concussion, and that in his playing days, things were a lot different.

"It's up in the air," Gardenhire said. "It's an area that I don't think any of us are too well adept at. It's something that hasn't really been that big of a deal until the last couple of years -- with every sport. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's been brought to the forefront now, the protection of players. There's no telling how many of us played with concussions."

The Twins' skipper himself said he was knocked out twice during games while in the Minor Leagues. One came on a play at the plate in Double-A. Another came after he was hit in the head with a pitch at Triple-A, while in the playoffs.

But partly because of the old school mentality of toughness and partly because of necessity, Gardenhire finished that game after getting knocked out cold. The beaning started a brawl that saw lots of players -- and Gardenhire's manager -- kicked out of the game.

"When I woke up everybody was fighting, so everybody got kicked out," he said. "And we only had nine players left, and I was one of them. So I played. And I don't remember that game."

He didn't play too poorly either, by his spotty recollection of the game.

"I remember I hit an inside-the-park home run after it. I remember the third-base coach telling me, 'I was stopping you the whole way.' I didn't even see him."

Regardless of circumstance, a player in that situation would never return to the game nowadays. But Gardenhire said that's because of new knowledge about concussions, as their seriousness wasn't widely known until recently.

Gardenhire said he doesn't get to talk to the doctors directly, so he isn't sure of the exact nature of Morneau or Denard Span's recovery. And while he hasn't had the science of concussions explained to him directly, he still knows when to hold a player out.

"Do I get it? Yeah," he said. "All I know is that when I listen to a player tell me that he loses sight of the baseball, I don't have to have any more answers than that. I won't play him."