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Morneau out of lineup for first time since '07

Morneau out of lineup for first time since '07

MINNEAPOLIS -- First baseman Justin Morneau was out of the Twins' lineup for the first time in nearly two years on Sunday, given what manager Ron Gardenhire called "a general day off."

"He came in today very, very sore," Gardenhire said before Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Astros.

Gardenhire also said prior to the game that he might consider using Morneau late in the contest if he could get loose. But after the loss, Gardenhire said that Morneau was deemed unavailable -- even to pinch-hit.

"He plans on being in there every day, but he knew when he came in today that he was not feeling very good," he said. "He was going to try to get loose, and we walked over and checked him, and it was not working out."

With Morneau spending the entire day on the bench, his streak of 319 consecutive games played came to an end. It was the first time that he had neither played nor started for the Twins since June 27, 2007. He missed a stretch of five games from June 23-27 of that year after suffering a bruised lung in a collision at home plate with Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo during at a contest in Florida.

That streak had ranked second in the Majors, behind the 343 recorded by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, but both streaks ended on Sunday. Howard missed the Phillies' contest on Sunday after being hospitalized for the second time in two days due to a flu virus.

Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres now holds the Major League lead for consecutive games played, with 274. No other players have more than 200.

As for Morneau's availability for Tuesday's series opener against the Brewers, Gardenhire said that the team will have to wait and see how he's feeling. Morneau will have two consecutive days off thanks to the rest on Sunday and Monday's off-day.

"We've got to get him through these things, and we're not going to get in a situation where this drags on," Gardenhire said of Morneau's soreness. "We'll see where he's at on Tuesday. Hopefully, he'll be fine."

But Gardenhire stressed that the club will be cautious.

"We saw that at the end of last year, when he played through everything, the bad back, the whole package, and we don't want to get into those things, not in the middle part of the year."

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

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