CHICAGO -- The Twins' traveling party has a few extra bodies on this final regular-season road trip. That's because the club's injured players -- Justin Morneau, Joe Crede and Kevin Slowey -- are all traveling with the team.
Manager Ron Gardenhire has said that it's been a big lift for his club just having Morneau on the bench to cheer on his teammates since the first baseman was lost for the rest of the season due a stress fracture in his back last week. And with the club right in the middle of a pennant chase, Morneau's presence -- along with the other injured players -- is particularly important.
"He's a leader," Gardenhire said of Morneau. "That he wants to hang out and stay with the ballclub means a lot. He could have just shut it down and say, 'I'm through, I'm going to stay home and ride my pontoon boat.' No one would have blamed him for that, because it's hard being a cheerleader and watching baseball games when you're that competitive. No one would have blamed him, but it's not in his makeup."
"Through team policy, we don't really do those things, unless a player is rehabbing and close to coming off [the disabled list]," Gardenhire said. "But having them here makes it nice for everybody."
Morneau and Slowey will be on the entire trip, while Crede will leave the team in a couple days. Crede will head home to Missouri before he undergoes season-ending back surgery in Dallas either Friday or early next week.
Michael Cuddyer understands better than most the difficulty of having to sit on the bench and not being able to contribute. He went through the same scenario last year during various injuries.
"I know what it's like to be a cheerleader, and it's frustrating and it stinks," Cuddyer said. "It's all that stuff. But at the same time, if you are a good teammate like Mornie is and the rest of those guys, you are not going to bring the team down."
And having Morneau around the team during this stretch run can only benefit the club, Cuddyer said.
"It's a peace of mind for him and it's good for us to see he's still out here supporting us," Cuddyer added. "That's what a teammate and a leader does. They come out and support you at times like this."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.