Souhan: Morneau appreciates his chance at a championship

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2013 - 11:11 AM

Though the goodbyes were difficult, Justin Morneau appreciates joining a pennant race with his new team.

They were linked by an ampersand, then matching MVP awards. The M&M Boys hung out together on the road, married St. Paul girls and acted as groomsmen in each other’s weddings.

On the day Justin Morneau left the Twins, Joe Mauer wasn’t around. There were no tears, no lingering man-hugs. Morneau is grateful his best friend in baseball didn’t have to see him packing his bag for the last time as a Twin.

“I think I was lucky he wasn’t in Texas that day,” Morneau said Monday, when his new team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 at Miller Park. “It was a little emotional, anyway, with a lot of the guys, but it would have been really difficult if he had been there.”

Saturday, the Twins traded Morneau to the Pirates. Morneau took the team bus to The Ballpark in Arlington, then flew to join the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Mauer was home in Minnesota, trying to recover from a concussion.

The two exchanged texts but didn’t speak until Sunday. At least one of the M&M Boys wasn’t happy about the trade.

“I talked to him [Sunday] and he’s frustrated with what happened,” Morneau said. “But at the same time, I think he’s happy that I get to come into a situation where I get to compete in a pennant race, because he knows that’s what we play for.”

Morneau was asked to elaborate on Mauer’s frustration.

“I think he’s frustrated with everything,” Morneau said. “It’s been a frustrating couple of years for everybody — for Terry, Gardy, myself, Joe. People who have high expectations.

“It’s been weird without him the last couple of weeks, driving to the ballpark by myself. It’s a pretty young clubhouse. It’s a little different.”

When Morneau spoke about his close relationships in the Twins clubhouse, he repeated the same names — Mauer, GM Terry Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire. When asked what he regrets about his tenure with the Twins, Morneau said he wanted to help the team win a World Series.

With the Pirates, he has been reunited with former Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano on a team that should make the playoffs.

“You leave the only place you’ve ever known, but you come to a pennant race, and the reason everybody plays this game is to try and win a World Series,” Morneau said. “We came here to try and do that, so I can’t look at that as anything but a positive. At the same time, I have a lot of friends and family and long relationships in Minnesota. I have to leave for a little bit but there’s nothing that says I won’t ever be back there. It’s a new chapter, I think. There are a lot of positives, but it was tough leaving the only pace I’ve ever known.”

Morneau was sitting at his locker before the game. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle brought him copies of the Sunday lineup card. They chatted about Morneau’s family traveling from Minnesota to see the Milwaukee series. Hurdle asked the names of Morneau’s wife and children.

With the Twins, Morneau had felt like part of the family. He had matured from a single kid who liked to drink a lot of beer into a player who took his status in the organization and in the Twin Cities quite seriously.

Asked what he wants his Twins legacy to be, Morneau said: “I think it’s kind of weird the way it worked out, that on Friday I hit a home run to pass Tony Oliva on the team list,” he said. “The numbers don’t speak for everything. I’m as proud of what I did off the field as what I did on it.

“I’m proud that you never saw my name in a DUI report or a bar fight. I was able to try and make a difference in the community and be a good role model. I don’t think I understood that early in my career, that as much as I didn’t want to be or think I was one, you learn that it’s a responsibility for all of us.”

Morneau is an uncommonly reflective athlete. Asked whether he has regrets about his Twins career, he sounded more disappointed about what happened before his career-changing concussion in 2010 than after it.

“Not winning a World Series would be No. 1,” he said. “The injuries, though, really helped me appreciate the game. Obviously, I enjoyed the game before, but I had never really struggled before, and to come back and to battle through everything and be able to come back and play, and to just enjoy the game is something that gave me a different perspective.

  • related content

  • Colabello breaks out in a big way, carries Twins past Astros

    Tuesday September 3, 2013

    The slumping Twins slugger hit two home runs, including a tiebreaking, ninth-inning grand slam.

  • Astros see Twins' best in late innings

    Monday September 2, 2013

    For some reason, it takes time for the Twins to get started against the Astros. But once they do, they finish the job.

  • Postgame: Twins enjoy Red Wings' success

    Monday September 2, 2013

    Former Rochester players follow pennant race; Colabello offers tribute to Justin Morneau, his predecessor at first base.

  • Video: Herrmann: It was just kind of a mess

    Monday September 2, 2013

    Twins catcher tries to explain bizarre base running double play during Twins' win in Houston on Monday.

  • Video: Albers: I wasn't making good pitches

    Monday September 2, 2013

    Twins starter Andrew Albers says he was leaving too many pitches up and over the middle in his short...

  • Rochester clinches playoff spot on last day + video

    Tuesday September 3, 2013

    The Twins’ top farm club accomplished something few believed they could pull off after their 2-11 start to the season: They won a playoff berth.

  • Video: Colabello: It's a battle every day

    Monday September 2, 2013

    Chris Colabello describes the battle hitters face every day as they strive to help their team.

  • Monday's Twins-Houston game recap

    Monday September 2, 2013

    GAME RECAPIMPACT PLAYERChris Colabello, TwinsThe rookie hit two home runs, including a ninth-inning, game-winning grand slam, to end his two-week...

  • Justin Morneau was tagged out by Brewers shortstop Jean Segura during the fourth inning of the Pirates’ 5-2 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park on Monday.

  • Pittsburgh Pirates' Justin Morneau grounds out in his first at-bat with the Pirates during the second inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Pittsburgh Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

  • Justin Morneau grounded out in his first at-bat with the Pirates during the second inning Sunday against St. Louis.

  • Justin Morneau, stretching to take a throw Sunday against the Cardinals, is 1-for-6 with his new team, but the Pirates have a one-game lead in the NL Central.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Detroit2200000004110
Minnesota «30000302X8130
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:K.Gibson(12-11) L:D.Price(14-12)
HR: DET- None MIN- None

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas - WP: N. Martinez 7 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 2
Boston - LP: B. Workman 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: G. Cole 3
Toronto - LP: A. Sanchez 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 3
Washington - WP: G. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 2
Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: N. Ramirez 4
Cleveland - WP: K. Crockett 2 FINAL
Houston - LP: S. Deduno 1
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Freeman 3
Arizona - LP: A. Reed 6 FINAL
Colorado - WP: L. Hawkins 7
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 3 FINAL
San Diego - WP: R. Erlin 7
Seattle - WP: T. Wilhelmsen 3 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: K. Jepsen 1
Tampa Bay 14 FINAL
Atlanta 56
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close