Had a long talk with Justin Morneau that provided the basis for today's column. I couldn't fit all the good stuff into the newspaper, so here are Morneua's responses on a few other topics of interest:
Do you leave the Twins bearing a few regrets?
Morneau: ``Yeah. A World Series would have been the No. 1 thing. We got to theplayoffs and couldn’t find a way to get it done. It seemed like a key player was injured every time we got there, and when you’re matching up with a team like the Yankees that has so much depth, you need every guy that you have. In '06 we’re missing Frankie (Liriano), who was the best pitcher in the game at the time. And then in '09 and '10 I was hurt, and who knows what happens? I couldn't control the injuries. It’s part of playing the game. That’s something you wish didn’t happen but that’s part of the game.''
What was it like to be traded and wind up walking into the Pirates' dugout during a game?
Morneau: Crazy. Crazy. Really weird. For a few innings I looked out there, being on a different team, it took a little while to settle in. Once I made a few plays and atook a couple of at-bats, it started to sink in, and I started to realize it’s still baseball. Different team, but still baseball. It’s odd. At the same time, it was exciting.
Was it anything like being called up as a rookie?
Morneau: Completely different. I remember when I was a rookie. I had the benefit for being called up at the beginning of the season when I was swinging the bat well, so I had a lot of confidence going in. I don’t really remember being that nervous the first at-bat. I got up at 4 a.m. and flew out at 6, went to hotel for an hour then came to ballpark. I was so young I didn’t have time to really realize what was going on .There was a lot of adrenaline going through the system on Sunday, because I was going on limited sleep for a couple of days. That helped a lot.
Were you worried about a trade?
Morneau: Anticipating would be the right word. I thought something might happen. (Twins GM) Terry Ryan was nice enough to tell me the night before that something might happen the next day. I was just sitting there waiting, hopped on a plane, went to the park. Just craziness.
Did you and Terry have a chance to talk?
Morneau: Yeah. He was the GM when I was drafted. I’ve been there since he was GM, then gone, then GM gm, and he was gone, and GM again. It’s a long relationship. He’s the guy that’s always been honest with me and had my best interests in mind through all the good times and the injuries.
Did your family come to Milwaukee?
Morneau: Everbody drove over. Grandma and Grandpa drove the kids over. It’s good to see them because I don't know how much I’ll see them in the next month. That stuff is the most difficult. The baseball stuff, you know, once I learn all my teamamtes’ names, that stuff will be the easy part of it. The tough part of it will be being away from the family and the kds and staying in a hotel for a couple of months.
Can you see yourself playing for the Twins again?
Morneau: I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. That’s too hard to answer that right now.
What was your favorite moment as a Twin? Maybe the game-winning home run off Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya in 2006?
Morneau: That one went through my head. The favorite one for me would probably be sitting in the dome the last day of the season in 2006, watching the game in Kansas City up on the screen, when nobody left the stadium. That’s not something you could ever script or plan. That just kind of happened. That was something we all shared with the fans and our teammates. That was insanity. That was probably my favorite thing I can think of.
Did you consider retiring when you were dealing with concussion symptoms?
Morneau: I had to think about it, but to say it was considered, no. To say it was close, no. But was it a realistic possibility? Maybe. It’s hard to say. Going through it, it felt like I wasn’t getting better. If I physically wasn’t able to go out there, to be cleared by a doctor to play…
Will you still live in the Twin Cities?
Morneau: Well, we live in Arizona during the winter. Corey Koskie came back. It might turn out to be a good thing. You go somewhere else and see what it's like, and you realize how great the Twin Cities are.
You've started hitting homers like your old self in the last month. Have you found your swing?
Morneau: My swing felt more like my swing. It's hard to put a finger on it. Those pitches I was missing or popping up early in the year, I felt like I was squaring up. I hit them in some of the right ballparks to hit them in, too. I just hope it continues for this month and next month and we have some fun.
Do you have any reassessed career goals?
Morneau: Winning. Just winning. Hopefully I get to play a few more years and enjoy wherever I'm at. Right now this is a good place to be.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon tomorrow from Milwaukee. Sunday on the station we'll have the Gardenhire show from 9:30-10, then Sunday Sports Talk with me, Scott Korzenowski and Tom Linnemann from 10-noon. I'll be calling in from the Vikings game in Detroit.