Last week on this site, I wrote about the three different paths in front of Morneau for next season. In the first part of the "Morneau Chronicles," the focus of the piece was the Twins hoping for the ideal results. Another option for the Twins could be to switch him to being a full-time designated hitter. The final installment of the three part series looked at the possibility of Morneau being pushed towards retirement. In the end, I hoped the Twins would be able to have him split time between first base and designated hitter for the 2012 season with other players taking some time at first base.
In this latest interview with Ryan, the Twins seem to have an interesting strategy for the Morneau situation. Here are a couple of quotes from the FSN article and some thoughts about the Twins plan as they approach spring training.
"I don't even want to talk about a backup plan because right now I'm encouraged with the way he's going about his business."It is positive to see the Twins having confidence in a player who has not been able to finish a season with the team during the past three years. He will begin swinging a bat this week for the first time since having surgery on his neck and wrist. So until the 30-year old first baseman proves he can't handle baseball activities, the Twins have a right to instill confidence in their former MVP. He has worked with doctors and the training staff to try and fight through some of the nagging concussion related issues. As recently as the end of December, Morneau was still recovering from post-concussion syndrome but he was showing signs of improvement.
"There is no backup plan because we've got a first baseman we're counting on."Realistically, the Twins have players in place to fill-in at first base if Morneau is unable to play in the field. It is unlikely that this group of players would be able to put up the same production as the healthy Morneau of years past. Mauer could find himself playing first on days when he is not scheduled to be behind the plate. Newly acquired Ryan Doumit has played a handful of games at first base during his career. The Twins used Luke Hughes as a fill-in option at first base with Morneau out at the end of last year. Fans of the team also saw Chris Parmelee show some positive signs during September. The Twins might be saying they don't have a backup plan but the pieces are clearly there if the team needs to make an adjustment.
"I think we're all encouraged that once we get down to spring training, we're going to find out a lot of things."There will be plenty of questions for the Twins to find answers to when it comes to Morneau at spring training. Will he be able to handle playing first base on a regular basis? Can he regain his offensive prowess after missing significant time in each of the last two seasons? Does the team need to move him to designated hitter in order to protect him from his concussion symptoms? Will it still be dangerous for Morneau to be a standing in the batter's box and running the bases? The list of questions could go on and on...
In the end, it is good that the team and their GM have confidence in the ability of the organization's first baseman to conquer his post-concussion symptoms. There are plenty of fans of the Twins who will be approaching Morneau's situation with a reserved skepticism. Morneau is going to have to prove himself on the field before fans are going to regain confidence in the power-hitting lefty. The start of spring training is a month away and it will be interesting to watch how fast the team's confidence in Morneau might have to switch once the team arrives in Fort Myers.
The 2012 SethSpeaks.net Twins Prospect Handbook is NOW AVAILABLE. This is a great book for every fan of the Twins. There are profiles on over 160 minor league players, top prospect lists from multiple writers, and a variety of featured stories. The Twins had to dig deep into their minor league system last year and it is a great resource to have on hand for reference to these players.