Twins eager for Morneau's Target Field return

Twins eager for Morneau's Target Field return

SEATTLE -- Justin Morneau is heading back to Target Field.

Morneau lost out in the Final Vote Sponsored by Experian to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on Thursday, but he will still be returning to Minnesota to participate in the Gillette Home Run Derby on Monday at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.

It marks the first time back to Target Field for Morneau since he was traded to the Pirates last August. He joined the Rockies as a free agent this offseason.

"I know it means a lot to him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I know he talked about tipping his hat to the fans. Now he has a chance to play in front of the fans, so I'm happy for him. I wish he would've made the team. I thought that would've been cool to see him on that line. But coming back for the home run contest there will be a lot of people rooting for him, and we all know what he means to this organization."

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who is also participating in the Home Run Derby, was equally excited to hear that his former teammate would be joining him in the event.

"He deserves to be an All-Star and is one of the best first basemen in the National League, but at the same time, for him to be back at Target Field, I know the fans are probably more excited about that than anything," Dozier said. "It's pretty cool."

Morneau, 33, played 11 years with the Twins, winning the AL MVP Award in 2006 and being named an All-Star four straight years ('07-10). He also participated in the Home Run Derby in '07 and '08, winning the event in '08 at Yankee Stadium.

The Twins will get to see Morneau firsthand this weekend in Colorado for a three-game series against the Rockies before the All-Star break, causing Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony to joke that he would not mind seeing Morneau save his energy for the Derby.

"I'm glad he's participating," Antony said. "I know it was disappointing for a lot of Twins fans and lot of guys in that clubhouse were hoping he'd make that club. So it'll be good to see him back in Minnesota and Target Field. Hopefully, he does absolutely nothing this weekend and rests up."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.