Twins excited Morneau will get his chance to return for Home Run Derby

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2014 - 12:52 AM

– Twins players such as Trevor Plouffe tried to vote Justin Morneau into the All-Star Game, but the Rockies first baseman lost out to the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo in the Final Vote that concluded Thursday.

But that won’t keep Morneau out of Home Run Derby. Morneau, who played the first 11 years of this career with the Twins, and Oakland’s Josh Donaldson were named Thursday to fill out the 10-man competition Monday at Target Field.

“That’s a good thing for the event, Minnesota, the city,” Plouffe said. “I think he’s got a chance. He’s got a track record.”

Morneau, who won the event in 2008, joins defending champion Yoenis Cespedes as former Derby winners in this year’s field. Morneau is in the middle of a bounce-back season for the Rockies, batting .313 with 13 homers and 59 RBI.

“I’m happy for him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I wished he would have made the [All-Star] team. It would have been cool, him standing on the line. Coming back for that home run contest, there will be a lot of people rooting for him. We all know what he means to Minnesota and what he did for this organization.”

Twins fans now have two rooting interests in the event, as second baseman Brian Dozier was named to the team Tuesday.

There wasn’t a lefthanded hitter in the Derby group until Morneau was added, so fans in right field won’t be left out now.

“He’s definitely going to hit some balls onto First Avenue,” Plouffe said.

Dozier said it should be an easy adjustment for Morneau since he knows what the competition is like and is so familiar with Target Field.

“Shoot,” Dozier said. “My job just got a little harder.”

Before then, though, Morneau will get to visit with his former teammates when the Twins visit Colorado for their final series before the break.

“Hopefully he does absolutely nothing this weekend and rests up for the derby,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony joked.

Santana progresses

Danny Santana, on the 15-day disabled list because of a bone bruise on his left knee, has improved to the point where he has started to run, and the Twins expect the rookie to be ready for a minor league rehabilitation stint soon.

Santana will head to Fort Myers, Fla., in the next few days to continue his rehabilitation, then play with the Gulf Coast League rookie team and then Class A Fort Myers. He is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday but will need more time than that. Antony wasn’t ready to say that Santana would be ready to join the club right after the All-Star break.

Mauer, not as much

Joe Mauer is eligible to come off the DL right after the All-Star break, but …

“I don’t see him being ready right after the break,” Antony said. “as of right now.”

Mauer is out because of a right oblique strain, and history shows that it can be a longer than 15-day recovery. It doesn’t help that Mauer was trying to battle through discomfort in the area and felt it give way while hitting a double on July 1.

“They are optimistic about his recovery, that things are going well,” Antony said. “They are still trying to work to get the soreness out, and until they do that, he can’t get back to doing the activities he needs to do. Right now there is no timetable.”

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