La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Morneau: "Just trying to get over that final hump"

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: February 21, 2011 - 1:05 PM

His everyday life has improved. His baseball life? He still has some things to work through.

But Justin Morneau will be on the field with his teammates tomorrow for workouts as he distances himself from the concussion he suffered on July 7 while trying to break up a double play in Toronto. He reported to spring training on Monday and met with the media for 35 minutes as he discussed various aspects of his situation.

Morneau said he's "hopeful" he will be in the Opening Day lineup in Toronto. ``Kind of ironic,'' he said, since that is where he was hurt.' But Morneau has yet to be cleared by doctors to play games. He can do everything else.

``Been going through the workouts in Arizona, everything’s been going good,'' he said. ``I haven’t been cleared for game activity; I’ve been cleared to do workouts -- go out on the field, do everything with teammates, face live pitching, do all that stuff.

``We're not going to be playing in the first four or five games; we’ll see how that goes. But we have to wait to see how it goes going through workouts every day, just being with the team, being out there, going through all the drills, all the rest of it. See how that reacts, and hopefully it goes how it has been. It’s been going well, especially the last month. It’s progressed a lot.

 ``I wouldn't say it's 100 percent yet, but I think it’s as close as I can get. It’s just trying to get over that final hump.

 ``I've been swinging, taking ground balls, practicing my turns, throwing to second base -- everything baseball activity. But it's been in a controlled environment, so that’s why we’re going to see what happens. We figured we’ll come out here and see how it goes once we get on the field with teammates.

 ``I'm pretty excited to get out there with them; it's been a while. We'll see how it goes; we'll see how everything continues.''

The sight of Morneau, looking as fit as ever (he says he's in excellent shape) had to be encouraging for a Twins team that needs him back in the lineup.

 Some symptoms - namely fogginess - is what he's been watching out for. But Morneau said he hasn't had those problems in recent weeks. Morneau has been allowed by doctors to fight through any symptoms and continue to work out. He's spent a chuck of the offseason in the Phoenix area, working out and, recently,resuming baseball-related activities.

Morneau said his everyday life has improved, and now it's time for his brain to follow suit. That means getting on a normal progression to Opening Day.

 

 

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