The Twins are hoping Joe Mauer can, once again, be one of the best players in the game.
But even if Mauer stays healthy, plays in most games and is lights-out at the plate, it won’t be enough to make the Twins competitive and a playoff contender. The Twins need Mauer and Justin Morneau to compete, to be relevant, to be more than a W for opponents.
And for the Twins to have a chance at success, Morneau has to buck a trend. He has to do what Sidney Crosby and some members of the Wild have been unable to do, and that’s play regularly despite a history of concussions.
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If there is one thing you can count on it’s this: You can’t count on athletes with concussion issues. The Pittsburgh Penguins are finding that out with Crosby, just as the Wild have been learning it with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse.
Unlike a sprain or pulled muscle, there is no timetable to recover from a concussion, and it’s even more unpredictable when there have been multiple concussions — which is the case with Morneau.
You pull for Morneau. You want him to be back to normal, to not have to worry about his availability being linked to damage done by concussions. But you just don’t know.
Some folks think Morneau should continue playing first base. Others think it’s best for him to be the designated hitter — where there are fewer chances to suffer another concussion.
Unfortunately, Morneau doesn’t need to suffer a blow to the head to experience concussion-related issues. In late August, he dove for a ball hit down the first base line and there were concussion symptoms.
Morneau is one of the best players in baseball when he’s healthy. And the Twins can be a dangerous team when he’s healthy.
Will he be healthy for most of the season?
Nobody knows the answer, which is why nobody knows how good the Twins have a chance to be.