Gardenhire gives updates on Morneau, Nathan

Posted: November 17, 2010, 11:01 p.m. CT

Ron Gardenhire is more accustomed to making the news, but on Wednesday he spent part of the day breaking the news.

During a conference call following the announcement that he’d won the AL Manager of the Year Award, Gardenhire provided impromptu health updates on two of the Twins’ biggest stars, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan.

Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, suffered a concussion on July 7 when he took a knee to the head while trying to break up a double play in Toronto. After a number of scuttled comeback attempts, he was shut down for the year, truncating a season in which he had earned his first berth as a starter in the All-Star Game.

When asked Wednesday about his slugging first baseman’s recovery, Gardenhire sounded noticeably upbeat.

“He’s doing really well,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been out in Arizona. He’s working out, or going to start working here pretty soon. … I know he’s feeling a lot better because he’s talking about how mad he is about us not moving the fences in, so obviously he’s thinking clearly.”

Gardenhire was referring to a recent report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Morneau was unhappy with the dimensions at Target Field, the Twins’ spacious new ballpark. Last week, the team unveiled plans for a number of improvements at the year-old facility, but bringing in the fences was not among the renovations.

Regardless of Morneau’s feelings about Target Field, he was hitting .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI when he went down for the year. Gardenhire said the Twins missed his presence in his customary cleanup spot in the batting order.

“He was having quite a year up to that point, and when he went down in Toronto, at first we thought it was just going to be a few-day thing,” Gardenhire said. “As it went along I think we all realized the enormity of it. As this concussion took more and more precedent over him getting on the field, it was more about, we’ve got to get this guy healthy just to get back to where he’s feeling good about himself, too.

“It was not easy (to) lose an MVP candidate, a guy that’s having a year like that. We were fortunate enough that I was able to move a Michael Cuddyer to first base and Danny Valencia came up and played really well at third base, but losing Morneau