ANAHEIM, CALIF. - Justin Morneau's apparent run of good health to start the 2012 season ended abruptly Monday night when he left the Twins' 4-3 loss to the Angels because of soreness in his surgically repaired left wrist.
Morneau will fly back to the Twin Cities on Tuesday to see Dr. Thomas Varecka, who performed surgery to stabilize a tendon in the same wrist in October. Morneau, who expects to have a magnetic resonance imaging exam, said the wrist began bothering him during the Twins' series at Tampa Bay April 20-22 and was particularly painful when he struck out against Los Angeles lefthander C.J. Wilson in his second at-bat Monday.
"Hopefully it's just inflammation from [scar tissue] breaking up, and it just got a little irritated from a swing or whatever it is," Morneau said. "But the [tendon] doesn't feel lose, which is a good sign. So I'll stay positive and hope it's part of the process."
In 2011, Morneau had four surgeries on various body parts and suffered a season-ending concussion in August. Injuries limited the 2006 American League MVP to 69 games. This year, he has played in 20 of the Twins' 22 games, batting .230 with four homers and 13 RBI.
"Obviously he's a huge factor in our lineup," said Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn, who gave up three runs over six innings to fall to 0-3. "He's been squaring so many balls up so far this season, his numbers don't really show what he's been doing at the plate. He's been crushing the ball."
So has Torii Hunter. The Angels outfielder haunted his old team again with an RBI single in the first inning and a two-run homer in the fourth. Chris Iannetta's seventh-inning homer off Alex Burnett made it 4-0.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire used Sean Burroughs to pinch hit for Morneau in the seventh inning. Joe Mauer, sitting out after taking a foul off his knee Sunday, was available to pinch hit, but had he reached base, the Twins would have had to pinch run for him, Gardenhire said.
Burroughs went 0-for-2, grounding out for a big second out in the eighth inning, when the Twins scored all their runs.
The Twins got RBI hits in the eighth from Alexi Casilla, Span and Danny Valencia, but Angels reliever Scott Downs got Ryan Doumit to ground out, halting the rally. Downs also pitched the ninth, overcoming a two-out single by Casilla for his second save.
"Tough night," Gardenhire said. "We were into the ballgame all the way to the end. C.J. shut us down for the first seven. We made havoc there at the end, but unfortunately we couldn't come up with one more to tie the ballgame up or take the lead."
At a major league-worst 6-16, the Twins have lost seven of their past eight games and now they are without Morneau again. The earliest he will be back is Friday in Seattle. He doesn't even want to think about the prospect of another surgery.
"I'm not going to play worst-case scenario yet," he said. "I'm going to try to stay positive, and hopefully it's just a normal part of the process and will just be a couple days and maybe [it] needs a cortisone shot or maybe some rest. So I'll stay optimistic now until I hear different."