Morneau ships out, will begin rehab assignment

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2011 - 12:07 AM

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau flew Thursday night to Norfolk, Va., where he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Friday with Class AAA Rochester.

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Twins first baseman Justin Morneau

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ANAHEIM, CALIF. - Twins first baseman Justin Morneau flew Thursday night to Norfolk, Va., where he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Friday with Class AAA Rochester.

Morneau has been out since June 9, so he will likely need at least one week's worth of playing time with Rochester before coming off the disabled list.

The Twins originally placed Morneau on the DL because of a strained left wrist, but he had surgery June 29 to relieve a pinched nerve in his neck.

The pinched nerve was causing weakness in his left arm and numbness in his left fingers as he struggled through the first half. Morneau is hitting .225 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 55 games this season, after missing the second half of 2010 because of a concussion.

The Twins hoped his symptoms would subside while Morneau's wrist was recovering, but on June 24 the decision was made to perform surgery on his neck. He was expected to need six weeks from the surgery date to recover, and the 2006 American League MVP is right on pace.

"I talked to [General Manager Bill Smith] today, and he said that Morneau is champing at the bit and ready to go," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Etc.

• The Twins were to fly to Minnesota after Thursday's game and weren't expected to land until about 5 a.m. Gardenhire said he would check to see how center fielder Denard Span felt for Friday night's game against the White Sox. On his recent rehab assignment recovering from his concussion, Span did not play on days Rochester traveled.

• Joe Mauer played first base Thursday. Gardenhire said the tentative plan was to have Mauer catch Friday and play first base again Saturday, with Drew Butera catching Carl Pavano.

• The Twins don't expect to have an update on pitching prospect Kyle Gibson until after he sees the team's doctors Monday. The righthander had a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his right elbow this week and could need Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

• The Angels sent Joel Pineiro to the bullpen after the veteran righthander gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Twins on Wednesday, giving him a 14.85 ERA over his past four starts.

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