Twins 4, Pirates 3
Even though he had an abbreviated spring training while working
his way back from a concussion, Minnesota Twins slugger Justin
Morneau thinks he will be ready to go on Opening Day in
Morneau capped his spring with a hit in Minnesota’s 4-3 victory
over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
The 2006 AL MVP missed the final three months of last season
with the concussion and only played in eight of 29 spring games. He
hit .192 (5 for 26) with one RBI, but still hasn’t officially been
announced for the Twins’ first game against the Blue Jays on
”I feel pretty good,” Morneau said. ”I’m starting to feel a
lot more comfortable. I kept progressing through spring training. I
feel like I got enough at-bats to feel comfortable at the
”I get to leave with the team. So obviously I’m pretty happy.
I’ll go to Atlanta and see how it goes. I’ll still continue the
process. If everything goes the way it has gone, I’ll be out there
for opening day. That’s the plan.”
The Twins play two exhibition games in Atlanta on Tuesday and
Wednesday before heading off to Toronto, the site of Morneau’s
injury last July 7 when he collided with Blue Jays second baseman
John McDonald while trying to break up a double play and missed the
rest of the season.
”I’ve thought about that,” Morneau said. ”It’s kind of funny,
but it is what it is. It’ll be nice to get back there right away
Jeff Karstens allowed five hits and one unearned run in 4 2-3
innings for the Pirates. He’s hoping to give the team flexibility
as either a reliever or a fifth starter.
Steven Pearce had a double and an RBI and Jose Tabata added a
double with a run scored for the Pirates, who will play two
exhibition games against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Tuesday
and Wednesday before opening the regular season on Friday in
Chicago against the Cubs.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was pleased with Morneau’s
”He’s put some good swings on the ball,” Gardenhire said.
”He’s gotten some hits. He’ll probably tell you, it’s not the
perfect situation for him right now because most of the time he
likes to get more at-bats. But he got as many as he could under the
circumstances. He’s as good as he can be right now.”
The Twins rallied in the ninth to win, with minor league catcher
Danny Lehmann knocking in the winning run.
Francisco Liriano, Minnesota’s No. 2 starter, gave up three runs
and four hits and struck out four in six innings. The lefty irked
Twins management by not doing his shoulder strengthening exercises
in the offseason, and finished a spotty spring with a 4.82 ERA.
”He was good,” Gardenhire said. ”I thought he was under
control, which was really good. This is what we’ve been waiting
for. He wasn’t flying all over the place.”
NOTES: The Twins set three spring training attendance records.
They set a single-game mark of 8,347 fans, and a spring training
mark for most fans in a 16-game season, drawing 129,453. The
per-game attendance average of 8,090 fans topped the previous
record of 8,053 set last year.