TORONTO – Trade deadline season is here, and Justin Morneau is trying to ignore chatter about being dealt while searching for his power stroke and helping the Twins’ youngsters play older than they are.
Since the first baseman is in the final year of his six-year, $80 million contract, his name is expected to come up in rumors over the next several weeks. While he has hit just six home runs he does have 50 RBI and could help a team in need of run production.
“I’m smart enough to understand the business part of the game,” he said. “At the same time you can’t help but wonder if you are going to get that phone call or not. Guys get traded every year. I’m hoping I’m not one of them.”
Morneau spent the weekend getting that message out to his constituents. The Twins usually make one trip to Toronto each season. Morneau, who followed the Blue Jays while growing up in British Columbia, always is a media focal point here.
He spent the weekend being asked about his future. One television interview has been played and replayed with him saying that it’s not fair to talk about leaving the Twins when the organization has stood by him as he battled concussion issues.
Sunday marked three years since he suffered a concussion at Toronto when his head struck infielder John McDonald’s knee as Morneau slid into second base. He was batting .345 with 18 homers and 56 RBI in 81 games at the time. He hasn’t produced like that since.
Morneau’s representatives reached out to the Twins before the regular season started about a contract extension, but the Twins weren’t interested at the time. Morneau said Sunday that the next move is up to the Twins. He is encouraged by the young players on the current roster and several in the minors, and he is willing to be part of that future if the Twins are interested.
“I could be looking forward to something else,” he said, “but I’m here and trying to help us win and want to be here and want to be part of this team.”
Pleased to see pop
One consolation of Sunday’s 11-5 loss to the Blue Jays was that Aaron Hicks and Trevor Plouffe each hit two-run home runs.
Hicks’ homer, his seventh, came with one out in the fifth against Toronto starter Todd Redmond. Hicks entered the game batting .174 against righthanded pitchers.
Plouffe’s blast came in the eighth against lefthander Brett Cecil — who was named to the All-Star Game Saturday. It was just the second home run hit off Cecil this year. Plouffe is batting .278 since coming off the disabled list last month but has hit five home runs.
• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni, who has missed the first three-plus months of the season because of left foot problems, has made enough progress with his rehabilitation that he is headed to Fort Myers, Fla. for the next phase of his comeback. Mastroianni last month said his goal was to come back sometime after the All-Star break and focus on having strong second half to the season. Mastroianni was in the mix for the starting center field spot in spring training before suffering a stress reaction in his foot and later having surgery to remove a bone chip.
• The Twins continue to sign international talent. They have agreements with Emmanuel Morel, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, and Robert Molina, a catcher from Venezuela.
• Class A Fort Myers outfielder Jhon Goncalves was named the Twins minor league player of the week. He batted .555 in five games with six doubles, five RBI and three walks.