Souhan: Healthy Morneau knows he could be cornerstone or trading chip

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 15, 2013 - 6:00 PM

Justin Morneau is finally healthy, which means he could again be a cornerstone of the Twins’ offense — or trade bait if the team isn’t contending.


Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is healthy now, but he pondered retirement during the worst times of his concussion recovery.

Photo: David Goldman •Associated Press ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

ustin Morneau can’t believe Joe Mauer will be the father of twins.

“I mean, is he going to name them Minnie and Paul?” Morneau asked, citing the names of the Minnesota Twins shaking hands in the team logo. “Someone in here said this means Miguel Cabrera’s wife is going to have a tiger.”

The M&M Boys still locker next to one another in the Twins’ spring training clubhouse, same as they have since they were gangly kids, but this season will be different for the friends and franchise players.

They’re both healthy during a spring camp for perhaps the first time since 2008. And they know that by August they might be communicating via text.

Morneau’s injury history and Mauer’s $23 million a year income suggest the two might not coexist much longer on a middling payroll. Morneau could be traded during the season, or allowed to leave in free agency at the end of it. He’d like to make the Twins think twice about parting with the guy who has been their most important player in terms of run production and clubhouse presence since 2004.

“I think if I’m healthy, I can help us win,” he said. “I’d rather win here than win somewhere else. This is the only organization I’ve ever known. Everybody has been great to me. They’ve stuck with me through the growing pains and the injuries. Everybody’s been there for the good times, too. I think there is something rewarding about winning with the guys you know as opposed to joining somebody else in the middle of their fun.”

Morneau looks and sounds like a different human this spring. Last year, plagued by concussion symptoms, he showed up in Fort Myers looking pale and skinny, and sounding ominously philosophical.

He admitted then that he had thought about ending his career if he couldn’t play with a clear head and healthy body. He meant it. “I think it was the first time that question was posed in public,” he said. “It wasn’t the first time I had thought about it. To me, it was an easy answer. I was going through the whole winter and I didn’t feel as good as I should have or wanted to.

“I was just at that point of reality, thinking, ‘How long can you keep putting yourself through something like that?’ I’m not saying it was an easy choice. This is what I wanted to do. But if it would have affected the rest of my life, then it wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense to keep trying.

“Obviously, it would have been a big deal, if that’s what would have had to happen. But there comes a time when you just have to say enough is enough, and I’m glad it didn’t get to that point.”

When Morneau first showed up as a prospect in Twins camp, he was a big, goofy kid who loved hockey and home runs and didn’t seem to think much about anything else. Now he’s a father, the most prominent personality in a quiet clubhouse, a symbol of the devastating effect of concussions, a career-long Twin and the most obvious trading chip for a rebuilding team.

“I’ve learned patience,” he said with a smile. “It’s funny how that comes with age.”

Morneau will have his patience, loyalty and foresight tested. This hypothetical situation was presented to him: What if he plays well this summer and the Twins ask him to sign a contract extension that isn’t market value for a cornerstone player?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I think it depends on how the team is doing. Probably the biggest thing that will factor into my decision will be whether we can win. It depends on the outlook. Whether they view me as part of that puzzle or not. I think it’s something that will be out of my control.

“At the same time, it’s going to depend on how I’m playing. You know, it’s impossible to say right now. If I’m happy and I feel like we can win, there’s nowhere else I’d rather play. I know that.”


Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Golden State 99 FINAL
Cleveland 110
Oklahoma City 23 2nd Qtr 8:29
Phoenix 33
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Arizona 3 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Montreal 5 FINAL
Columbus 2
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Toronto 3
Chicago 3 FINAL
Florida 0
St. Louis 2 FINAL(SO)
Winnipeg 1
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Nashville 2
Ottawa 0 1st Prd :16
Los Angeles 0
Detroit 0 2nd Prd
San Jose 1
Northern Ky 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
East Tenn St 73 FINAL
Citadel 74
Winthrop 50 FINAL
Campbell 65
Delaware 58 FINAL
Drexel 44
Jacksonville St 57 FINAL
Eastern Ky 63
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Elon 72
Sacred Heart 90 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 85
Western Carolina 49 FINAL
Furman 53
Char Southern 81 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Western Ill 66 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 73 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 67
Radford 69 FINAL
Liberty 80
St Francis-NY 74 FINAL
Long Island 69
Wofford 76 FINAL
Mercer 72
Minnesota 96 FINAL
Michigan State 90
High Point 75 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 71
Samford 67 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Ohio State 81
Wagner 59 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Mount St Marys 60 FINAL
St Francis-PA 63
Houston 54 FINAL
Temple 66
Vanderbilt 73 FINAL
Tennessee 65
Chattanooga 86 FINAL
Va Military 82
Milwaukee 61 FINAL
Wright State 58
Coastal Carolina 69 FINAL
Presbyterian 80
Central Conn St 69 FINAL
Bryant 77
Ga Southern 77 FINAL
Appalachian St 58
SIU Edwardsville 61 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
Green Bay 72 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 67
Texas-El Paso 60 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 77
Marshall 87
Rider 63 FINAL
Monmouth 60
Eastern Ill 57 FINAL
Murray State 65
Charlotte 65 FINAL
North Texas 81
North Dakota St 58 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Old Dominion 63 FINAL
Rice 54
TX-San Antonio 66 FINAL
Southern Miss 70
UT Martin 69 FINAL
Tennessee St 52
Fla Atlantic 68 FINAL
Western Ky 71
Northern Ariz 85 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Grand Canyon 70 FINAL
Chicago State 74
Utah Valley U 50 FINAL
South Alabama 57
Texas-Arlington 80 FINAL
Arkansas State 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 92
Troy 61 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arizona 82 FINAL
Colorado 54
Memphis 57
Tenn Tech 73 FINAL
Morehead State 86
Rutgers 85 FINAL
Purdue 92
Southern Utah 67 FINAL
Northern Colorado 77
Montana State 68 FINAL
Eastern Wash 92
UC Davis 49 2nd Half 7:50
UC Santa Barbara 57
UC Irvine 57 2nd Half 6:45
Cal Poly 42
Cal State Fullerton 55 2nd Half 8:45
CS-Northridge 54
Montana 39 2nd Half 14:13
Idaho 35
BYU 52 2nd Half 13:05
Portland 46
Pacific 45 2nd Half 7:39
Santa Clara 38
Arizona State 9 2nd Half
Utah 41
San Diego 9 1st Half 11:37
Gonzaga 9
St Marys-CA 26 1st Half 8:34
San Francisco 15
Oregon State 13 1st Half 11:45
Stanford 12
Long Beach State 10:59 PM
Rice 68 FINAL
Old Dominion 83
Manhattan 67 FINAL
Monmouth 84
Georgia Southern 39 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Marshall 74 FINAL
FIU 50
TX-Arlington 62 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
South Alabama 38
Troy 75 FINAL
Texas State 59
Georgia State 39 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 56
William & Mary 84 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 55
Delaware 68 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Maine 61
UMass Lowell 72 FINAL
Vermont 64
Albany 65 FINAL
Hartford 50
Stony Brook 68 FINAL
Binghamton 59
Boston College 60 FINAL
(8) Louisville 77
(23) Syracuse 60 FINAL
Clemson 55
(16) Duke 62 FINAL
Georgia Tech 71
Florida 53 FINAL
Alabama 49
NC State 52 FINAL
(9) Florida State 72
Miami-Florida 59 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Ole Miss 58
(11) Miss State 50 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 69
Fairfield 74 FINAL
Iona 62
Marist 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 66
Quinnipiac 91 FINAL
Rider 53
Virginia 70 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 72
Pittsburgh 59 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 87
Ohio State 88 FINAL
Penn State 70
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Dayton 69
(22) George Washington 81 FINAL
Richmond 69
Saint Louis 53 FINAL
Rhode Island 68
Wright State 74 FINAL
Detroit 59
Green Bay 70 FINAL
Oakland 55
Western Ky 85 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 74
Indiana 72 FINAL
(5) Maryland 83
North Texas 46 FINAL
Charlotte 71
Central Arkansas 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 56
SE Louisiana 60 FINAL
Northwestern St 71
Nicholls 63 FINAL
New Orleans 68
Incarnate Word 44 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 58
Denver 68 FINAL
No Dakota State 87
IUPU-Ft Wayne 61 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 70
South Dakota 69
Lamar 77 FINAL
McNeese State 98
Western Ill 49 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Missouri 70 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 69
(13) Kentucky 56 FINAL
Arkansas 51
(20) Rutgers 60 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 80
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 59
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
(17) Iowa 78
North Dakota 68 FINAL
Northern Ariz 72
Northern Colorado 88 FINAL
Southern Utah 66
Louisiana Tech 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
Montana State 63
Idaho 68 FINAL
Montana 81
Auburn 70 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(6) Tennessee 70 FINAL
Georgia 59
Gonzaga 62 FINAL
San Diego 75
Washington 60
Portland 63 FINAL
BYU 65
(24) California 74 FINAL
Oregon 59
(19) Stanford 69 FINAL
(7) Oregon State 58
Chicago State 49 FINAL
Grand Canyon 73
Utah Valley U 61
San Francisco 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
UCLA 63 2nd Half 7:45
Washington St 65
Santa Clara 48 2nd Half 10:41
Pacific 62
CS-Northridge 51 2nd Half 9:15
Cal State Fullerton 41
UC Santa Barbara 29 2nd Half 7:21
Cal-Irvine 43
Hawaii 31 2nd Half 10:17
Long Beach St 34
Cal Poly 54 2nd Half 9:35
UC Davis 34
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question