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Twins notes, 9/18

September 18, 2011

Morneau out for remainder of season

By Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Morneau is the latest Twins player to be shut down for the season.

Two days after the club announced Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka wouldn’t play again this year, Twins trainer Rick McWane said Morneau will be held out of action because of his concussion-like symptoms, and will also have surgery on Monday to remove a cyst from his left knee and a bone spur from his right foot.

“Well, yeah, I didn’t shut it down. They shut me down, it’s not my choice,” Morneau said. “It’s something that’s not a lot of fun, but hopefully it’s the last time I have to deal with it. And go and have a winter and put this year behind us, and come back ready to go in the spring.”

Morneau, who has also been sick with the flu in recent days, has been out with concussion symptoms stemming from a dive for a ground ball on Aug. 28.

The first baseman had hoped to return as a designated hitter before the season ended. But his latest battle with the flu set him back, and the club hasn’t had a chance to evaluate his concussion symptoms the last few days.

“He’s been sick and throwing up and had a headache, so we haven’t had a chance to truly evaluate how he really feels,” McWane said. “But the knee surgery is a very simple surgery.”

Morneau said the knee had been drained last December, and was something he knew would need to be cleaned up after the season. The two surgeries should sideline Morneau no longer than a couple of weeks, he said.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he wasn’t surprised by the decision, as there are just 10 days left in the season, and the training staff had been leaning toward shutting down Morneau.

“They’ve been talking about that over and over again,” Gardenhire said. “Then, he got the flu bug and that kept him away for a couple days, too. So we really haven’t been able to sit down with him and talk to him — other than over the phone. He came in yesterday, but hasn’t been doing too well.”

Morneau finishes the season with a .227 batting average, .285 on-base percentage and .333 slugging percentage — along with four homers and 30 RBIs in just 69 games. He missed 56 games from mid-June until mid-August with a sprained left wrist, and also underwent neck surgery on June 29.

Morneau, who played in just 81 games last season after suffering a concussion before the All-Star break, has missed 201 games over the last three years. It’s still unclear whether he’ll be able to remain at first base next season, or if he’ll be limited to serving as the club’s designated hitter.

“It’s not a lot of fun when you’re physically not able to [play], when you have that desire. Whether you win or lose, it doesn’t matter. You want to be able to go out there and compete,” Morneau said. “Nobody plays this game at 100 percent. Everyone deals with injuries.

“There’s certain stuff you can play with and certain stuff you can’t. The brain isn’t something you mess around with.”

Baker close to returning; other Twins mending

MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Scott Baker threw a bullpen session on Saturday, and is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and be available to pitch for the Twins.

Baker has been dealing with a right elbow strain since July 7, and has not pitched for the Twins since early August. After going on the disabled list on July 17 (retroactive to July 7) and coming off on July 23, Baker managed just three starts before being shut down again.

Second baseman Alexi Casilla, who has been sidelined since Aug. 13, is scheduled to test his strained hamstring on Tuesday. Casilla initially hit the DL with the hamstring injury on July 29 and returned on Aug. 12.

Casilla played in just one game before returning to the DL.

Head trainer Rick McWane also gave updates on catcher Joe Mauer, who is done for the year due to pneumonia, and Jason Kubel, who continues to be bothered by pain in his left foot, which he sprained in late May.

“Joe Mauer is still at home, still complaining of body aches and the cough,” McWane said. “Jason Kubel is going to be available to pinch-hit from here on out, and that’s it.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said there was still hope that center fielder Denard Span could get in a few games over the final 10 days of the season.

Span, who suffered a concussion in a home-plate collision at Kansas City in early June, has not played since Aug. 18, when the concussion and migraine symptoms returned. It’s possible that Span could be back in the lineup at some point during the Twins’ home series with the Mariners this week.

“He’s actually probably been as lively in the clubhouse as I’ve seen him,” Gardenhire said. “Hopefully, we get back after this New York trip (a makeup game at the Yankees on Monday), get on the field and get him in a ballgame or two, a couple of at-bats, whatever it might take. See how he does, how he responds and go from there.”

Rene Tosoni joined the list of Twins to catch the flu bug that has been going around the clubhouse. The rookie outfielder was not with the club on Sunday, but Gardenhire said the hope was for Tosoni to join the Twins after the game for their trip to New York.

Danny Valencia was “still shaky” according to Gardenhire, which made the third baseman a late scratch, as he continued to deal with the flu bug.

Twins complete Thome deal with Indians

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins and Indians finalized their Aug. 25 trade for Jim Thome on Sunday, with the Indians sending $20,000 in cash to the Twins.

Thome was sent to Cleveland once Minnesota had fallen out of the race, with the hope that he could return to where his career began and help the Indians down the stretch in the pennant race.

In his first 15 games since the trade, Thome hit .259 with two home runs and four RBIs, including a ninth-inning solo blast on Friday that proved to be the game-winner in the Indians’ 7-6 victory over the Twins. But entering Sunday’s play, the Indians were 12 1/2 games behind Detroit in the AL Central and had been eliminated.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollingerJordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs

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