May 9, 2012
Punchless Twins miss Morneau
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI AGENCY
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins are once again fighting with one hand tied behind their back.
On a team that is limited in power, fielding a lineup few pitchers fear, they are once again making due without the services of former MVP Justin Morneau.
About the only good news for the native of New Westminster, B.C., is that his latest injury isn’t related to the severe concussion that came close to ending his career in 2010.
This time, it’s a sore left wrist that has sent Morneau to the shelf. His wrist started hurting on the Twins’ west coast trip and he was placed on the DL backdated to May 1.
“It’s better to get it right now rather than have it drag on through the summer and not be as effective or productive as I can be,” Morneau, the 2006 American League MVP, said at the time. “Get it right now and be able to play the rest of the year healthy instead of battling through something and not being effective at all.
“But the (tendon) doesn’t feel loose, which is a good sign. So I’ll stay positive and hope it’s part of the process.”
Ever since Morneau was struck in the head by the knee of Blue Jays shortstop John McDonald on July 7, 2010, while attempting to break up a double play at second base, it’s been a nightmare for the Twins’ big first baseman.
His 2010 season ended that day. Last year, he was able to participate in just 69 games due to a variety of knee and wrist injuries before concussion symptoms resurfaced in August. In those 69 games, Morneau hit .227 (60-for-264) and delivered just four home runs and 30 RBIs.
This season, Morneau has appeared in 20 games and is hitting .230 (17-for-74) with four homers and nine RBIs.
Morneau attempted to play in Monday’s game against the Angels, but was scratched. An MRI on Tuesday showed inflammation and fluid around his wrist, but no structural damage.
“Obviously, he’s a huge factor in our lineup,” Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn told the StarTribune. “He’s been squaring so many balls up so far this season, his numbers don’t really show what he’s been doing at the plate. He’s been crushing the ball.”
Overall, the Twins have scored the second fewest runs in the American League and are dead last in home runs with all of 17.
Blue Jays at Twins
Thursday, 8:10 p.m. RHP Henderson Alvarez vs. RHP Jason Marquis
Friday, 8:10 p.m. RHP Kyle Drabek vs. RHP Nick Blackburn
Saturday, 7:10 p.m. RHP Drew Hutchison vs. LHP Francisco Liriano
Sunday, 2:10 p.m. LHP Ricky Romero vs. LHP Scott Diamond
DH/C/1B/OF Ryan Doumit has four home runs and a club-leading 17 RBIs.
Rookie LHP Scott Diamond, who was just called up from triple-A Rochester, pitched seven shutout innings on Tuesday.
Reliever Jarid Burton has allowed just three hits in 12 innings and is on a run of 32 consecutive hitless at-bats against the opposition.
3B Danny Valencia is hitting .198 (19-for-96) and has gone hitless in his past 21 at-bats.
LHP Francisco Liriano has been brutal in a starting role as he has gone 0-5 with a horrendous 9.45 ERA. In 26.2 innings, he has allowed 37 hits and walked 19.
RF Trevor Plouffe is batting just .140 (6-for-43) with one home run and two RBIs.
The Minnesota Twins are in a rebuilding mode and are suffering the consequences as they sport the worst record in the American League — 8-21. They are dead last in team ERA at 5.39 and have scored the second-fewest runs in the league: 159. That is a deadly combination. They also have no power as they are also dead last in home runs, having hit just 17. Canada’s own Justin Morneau is also out of the lineup and on the DL with a wrist injury.
The Jays may be going through a re-group of their own, but they should be able to win three of four, closer or no closer.