Morneau struggles to come back


Twins first baseman Justin Morneau

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune file

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KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau connected on a Luke Hochevar pitch in the sixth inning Sunday and drove it over the right field fence for his first home run in 106 games, going back to July 6 last year in Toronto.

It has been a long time coming for Morneau, who missed the second half of last season because of a concussion.

But, while talking before the Sunday's game against Kansas City, Morneau said he really doesn't feel that great at the plate and has been battling fatigue.

"Just the fatigue, it's just the way it is,'' Morneau said. "It takes all the energy for the brain to be able to focus and be able to concentrate. Just can't do everything I want to do. That's all part of it, but you have to grind it out.''

Morneau acknowledged that he's still taking medication stemming from the concussion but expects to eventually be weaned off it. He also knew that he might have to deal with some fatigue, pointing out that he didn't pick up a weight in spring training and focused primarily on getting through days symptom-free. Morneau didn't appear in a game until a spring training "B" game on March 8 and played his first exhibition game on March 11.

He plans to fight through this stage of the season and eventually build his energy.

"I knew this was how it was going to be,'' he said, "It's frustrating.''

He doesn't blame the medication he's on for his .225 batting average.

"I've struggled before and wasn't taking anything,'' he said.

Morneau also is coming off of an illness two weeks ago that caused him to lose 10-15 pounds, which might he another reason for the fatigue.

Span steps up

When manager Ron Gardenhire spoke to the team following Saturday's 11-2 loss, he ended by asking if anyone had anything to add.

Denard Span stood up. One of the more reserved players, he had something to say.

"It was pretty much, 'What are we going to do? Are we going to step up? Are we going to lay down?'" Span said. "I said I worked too hard to get here. We've worked too hard to get here. Everyone in this room had to go through something to be here. So let's go.''

Span was going to get Sunday off but, after his speech, Gardenhire put him in the lineup as the designated hitter.

Unfortunately for the Twins, Span went 0-for-5.

Nishioka to Florida

Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka will fly to Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday to start the next phase of his recovery from a broken left fibula suffered on April 7.

Nishioka has been cleared to do more activities on dry ground after running on an underwater treadmill to keep weight off his leg while it healed.

Heading to Florida will enable him to work out in better weather. Personnel on hand will hit him grounders and throw batting practice.

The Twins aren't sure when Nishioka will be ready to play in games in Fort Myers.


• Designated hitter Jim Thome experienced some stiffness in his left oblique muscle and was held out of the lineup. Twins trainer Dave Pruemer said it stems from all the swings Thome took while he worked to get back in the lineup and is not a concern.

• Infielder Michael Cuddyer, who had played in 25 of 26 games before Sunday, was given the day off.


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