Morneau's wish: Make All-Star appearance at Target Field

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 10, 2014 - 12:24 PM
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Justin Morneau was grateful for a job when the Colorado Rockies came calling in the offseason.

Photo: Charlie Riedel • Associated Press,

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Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of Sunday stories leading up to the All-Star Game.

– It bothers him still.

Nine months have passed, and everyone has gotten on with life. Justin Morneau’s old position has been filled by his oldest friend in baseball. His locker in the far corner of the Twins clubhouse, closest to the food as he once joked, is now occupied by Josh Willingham. Morneau himself has worn two different uniforms since the Twins traded him last August, and he has settled in just fine in his new home.

The Minnesota chapter of his life has concluded — for everyone but Morneau. Like a hallway light still burning, like a window left ajar, the Colorado Rockies first baseman has a nagging feeling, even all these months later, that he’s left something undone back home in Minneapolis. He’s left something unspoken ... with you.

“That was something I want to do — to go back,” Morneau says. “You know, I never really had a chance to say goodbye,” to the Twins, the team’s employees and staff, and especially its No. 33-wearing fans. “Being traded when we were on the road, it wasn’t like it happened during a homestand.”

No, he left abruptly, dispatched suddenly to Pittsburgh while the Twins were in Texas, exiled to the National League with no way to thank his supporters for their 11 seasons of encouragement. Morneau, whose bemused demeanor disguises his sensitive nature, wrote a heartfelt note to the city that day and distributed it to Minnesota reporters, but it felt unsatisfying and impersonal, like breaking up via text message.

Rockies fans have made him feel welcome and appreciated this season, but “I don’t know if I’ll ever have that relationship with anyone” like he did with Twins fans, Morneau says. “I was there for so long. They saw me grow up. There’s a special relationship there.”

The schedule-makers are no help. The Rockies and Twins are in different leagues, so Colorado has no annual appointment in the Twin Cities. By coincidence, the teams are actually scheduled to meet next month, but in Coors Field, a time zone away. A Colorado-Minnesota series in Target Field is probably three years away, at minimum.

What a shame. If only there was some event, some special occasion, that could reunite the Canadian slugger this summer with his adopted hometown. Some function that would provide him a stage to express his gratitude, and vice versa.

Hey, wait a minute ...

“That’d be something, wouldn’t it?” Joe Mauer says, grinning at the notion of his old pal, the other half of the Twins’ M&M Boys, standing along Target Field’s third-base line on July 15 and being introduced as a National League All-Star. “I’m sure he’d get some pretty amazing cheers, pretty loud, every time he stepped to the plate.”

Yeah, it’s occurred to Morneau, too. “It would be a dream come true,” he says. “It would be a really cool situation. I guess I’m the only one who can really control that.”

He’s doing a pretty great job of it so far. Morneau, whose age now matches the 33 on his back, has batted above .300 for most of the season, until a 1-for-18 slump heading into the weekend cooled him off. He remains almost exactly on pace, however, to equal the 30-homer, 100-RBI levels that he reached in 2009, the last time he played in an All-Star Game. The long uppercut swing, with the hands-over-helmet follow-through that became so familiar in the Metrodome, is back and connecting with errant fastballs again.

Morneau has the look of an All-Star once more, though he understands the field is a crowded one. “You look at the lineup of guys — [Paul] Goldschmidt, [Joey] Votto, Adrian Gonzalez — and you look at the years some guys are having already, it’s tough competition,” Morneau says, sizing up his chances. “To be up with those guys, it’d be a lot of fun. But if my whole goal is to put up numbers and get there, that’s when I’m going to get away from what I’m trying to do, and that’s just trying to contribute every day. Show up and do my job, and hopefully that will be good enough. We’ll see.”

His career marker

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Final123456789RHE
Minnesota «000003030671
Baltimore000000301461
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:P.Hughes(15-9) L:K.Gausman(7-7) S:G.Perkins (33)
HR: MIN- None BAL- N.Cruz (36), N.Hundley (4)

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NY Mets - LP: J. Familia 6 FINAL
Miami - WP: A. Ramos 9
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 7 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Boston - LP: B. Badenhop 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: G. Balfour 4
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 6 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: S. Maness 5
Milwaukee - LP: J. Nelson 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Turner 4
Detroit 9 Top 9th Inning
Cleveland 1
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Hammel 6
San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 4 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Friedrich 2
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Ross 3
San Francisco 7 Top 5th Inning
Colorado 2
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 0:51
Calgary 28
Indiana 84 FINAL
Chicago 86
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