PHOENIX – The Twins have a lot of question marks surrounding the beginning of the 2011 season, but the biggest question mark is Justin Morneau.
When will he back? Will he ever be back? Will he be the same or is it a classic case of what could have been?
Morneau hasn’t played an inning of live ball since suffering a concussion back on July 7th of last year. He missed his first fan elected All-Star game, the Twins push to the playoffs and their unfortunate early dismissal from them. He furthered concerned fans by skipping TwinsFest completely to continue his rehab.
There was some hope he would have returned for the ALDS, but it turned out he was still getting dizzy. This was the event that planted the massive doubt seed that has since sprouted into the hope-eating monster that is that huge question mark hanging over not just Morneau’s season but his career.
The fact he has missed so much time for a seemingly simple injury has sent a collective shiver up Twins fans spines. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the unbelievable may be at hand: Justin Morneau’s career may be over. That is to say the career he was having and could have ultimately had. Not only has Morneau suffered multiple concussions from his youth days playing hockey and basketball, but his egregious mishandling of his 2005 concussion have shown their effects with his 2010 concussion.
It’s not the first time an elite player has been severly hindered by chronic concussions. Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Steve Young and Troy Aikman saw their careers cut short or heavily effected due to too many head injuries. Aikman suffered over 10 in as many seasons and between the two it is estimated they suffered over 17. Although Morneau has two documented concussions, the number he suffered playing hockey will forever remain a mystery number, yet a relevant variable. With the growing culture of intense concern over the long term effects of multiple head injuries, no one will be rushing Justin back this time around.
But his lengthy absence is still unsettling. However his efforts to come back are uplifting. Especially since he is (as much as we hate it) taking his time. “It’s still a work in progress.” Said GM Bill Smith. “He is not 100 percent.” The club is hoping to have Morneau back by April 1st, in fact it’s been reproted that this is the timetable everyone is officially on. “You can circle April 1 on the calendar. That’s the day we’re shooting for to get him ready,” Smith said. Now even though Twins fans have heard this before (see the ALDS), reports that Morneau has intensified his workouts in Pheonix are even more uplifting.
“It seems like every day he’s getting better,” said Twins minor league outfielder Rene Tosoni. “Since I’ve been down there,(Phoenix) we’re working out full tilt. Nothing is stopping him. He’s never said anything to me about his injury or anything. I think everything is good.”
It’s safe to say Twins fans would have loved to hear this from Morneau himself at TwinsFest. But that will be gladly traded for a full season with a healthy Morneau on the roster and on the diamond.