Twins 3, Red Sox 2
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau took his next step toward
being ready for opening day.
The 2006 AL MVP went 0 for 2 in his spring training debut as
Minnesota beat a Boston Red Sox split squad 3-2 on Friday.
Morneau played in a ”B” game earlier this week, but this was
his first Grapefruit League action since he sustained a
season-ending concussion last July 7. He missed the final 78 games
of the year.
”Once I took the field, I felt good out there,” Morneau said.
”I feel like I’m a little behind everyone else, just from not
being out there.”
Morneau struck out swinging and reached base on an error by Red
Sox left fielder Carl Crawford, with both at-bats coming against
ace left-hander Jon Lester.
Twins left fielder Delmon Young also played in his first spring
game after coming back from a turf toe injury. He went 1 for 2.
Lester struck out five in four scoreless innings, scattering
four hits and walking none. He is in line to be Boston’s opening
day starter, although no announcement has been made by the
”I want to see as many lefties as I can, to tell you the
truth,” Morneau said. ”The more times you can see him – he’s one
of the best lefties in the game – the more you can learn. He’s
about as good as left-handers go. He’s a tough at-bat.
”It’s also good because you’re focusing on trying to figure out
the at-bat instead of thinking about what you’re trying to do. It
gets your mind off it.”
Asked about his approach to facing Morneau, Lester began with a
”To get him out,” Lester said. ”It’s the same approach every
time I’ve faced him. The thing that makes it tough is he’s able to
cover a big part of the plate. He’s able to do some damage to both
sides of the field. Just to be able to get him out is obviously
”You don’t want to see guys, regardless of what injury it is,
go through stuff like that. It’s good to see him out there. It’s
good to see him out there playing. Hopefully he doesn’t have any
more effects from it.”
Lester, who went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA in 32 starts last season,
said he has not put much thought into potentially starting on
”I feel like I’m on track and everything is going in the right
direction,” said Lester, who has yet to give up a run this spring.
”We’ve still got a long way to go. Whoever gets the ball, it’s
going to be a big honor. If it doesn’t happen, it’s no big
Morneau, who was hitting .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs at
the time of his injury last season, said just like every spring
training, he wondered if he could be the same player again.
”That always goes through your head,” Morneau said. ”It’s
like that on the first day of spring training, when it looks like
they’re throwing 120 mph and you’re wondering if you can hit
”Your reaction times have to get back to normal. Once you do
that, then you can be the same player. I don’t think the doctors
would let me go out there if they didn’t think I can be the same
Talking to New York Mets outfielder Jason Bay, who suffered a
season-ending concussion last season, and former Twins and Brewers
third baseman Corey Koskie, whose career ended after a concussion,
helped Morneau handle his post-concussion comeback, he said.
”There are so many factors that dictate how long it’s going to
take,” Morneau said. ”For one person it could take a week and
another person it could take a year. You never know what it’s going
”I believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe I’m one of
the athletes who can stand up and be heard. Who knows in the
future? Right now I’m not quite past all of that yet. I’m worried
about the day-to-day stuff. I’ve missed a significant amount of
time. It shows me life goes on. There’s more important to me than
Twins starter Brian Duensing struck out four. He gave up two
runs and five hits in three innings.
NOTES: Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon got only one out. He
walked three and gave up three runs on one hit, increasing his
spring ERA to 8.10. … Twins 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka did not realize
until arriving at the ballpark that there had been a devastating
earthquake in his native Japan. He was able to find out that his
family was safe. He debated about playing and decided it would be
best for his countrymen back home if he did. He went 1 for 2 with a
walk. ”I understand that I’m in an occupation where I can bring
hope and energy back home to Japan,” Nishioka said through his
translator, Ryo Shinkawa. ”So I wanted to be on the field and
think about people back home and give it all out on the field to
try and give something back.”