Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Twins 1B Justin Morneau Among Missing

Joe Mauer will be there. Ron Gardenhire will be there. Brian Duensing and Denard Span will, as will Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Tom Kelly, Dan Gladden and a host of other current and former Minnesota Twins personalities.

But where is Justin Morneau?

Morneau, the eight-year veteran whose MVP year saw him bat .321 with 34 homers in 2006, is among the missing as the team sets out on its two-week Winter Caravan promotional tour. His absence doesn't necessarily point to disaster, but it is none too reassuring either, given Morneau's health issues over the past three seasons.

If there was one person fans would want to see smiling, healthy and happy more than any other, it would be Justin Morneau. The tour runs through Jan. 30, but Morneau's not coming, now or later.

Various team testimonials depict the 6-foot-4 Canadian working out and healthy in sunny Florida, eagerly getting ready for 2012. But that's the same news that was reported last year when the ailing slugger missed half the year, then hit a mere .227 with just four homers in 264 at-bats.

Morneau, 31, because he makes up half of the team's critical M&M keystone with Joe Mauer, needs to recover his playing ability if the Twins are to avoid another disaster like the 2011 season. The problem is, in addition to other illnesses, Morneau has suffered mightily from post concussive syndrome, the result of a repeated blows to his head since he began playing hockey as a teenager.

The malady is marked by headaches, dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, inability to concentrate, sunlight aversion and other manifestations, none worse than an inability to function as normally as anyone else throughout the day, to say nothing of being able to play professional baseball.

It is not only the type of disorder that permanently sidelined former Twins corner infielder Cory Koskie, it IS the disorder. Said Morneau recently to the London Free Press: "I won't know how my body is going to react until I do baseball activities."

He told MLB News Network: "Something's not right."