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Updated: April 15th, 2012 5:19pm
Justin Morneau could play first base on Twins' upcoming road trip

Justin Morneau could play first base on Twins' upcoming road trip

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After the Minnesota Twins' 4-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday, manager Ron Gardenhire was asked how newly-acquired outfielder Clete Thomas -- who homered in the game -- might fit into the lineup going forward.

"We'll see how it all breaks down, and see how we put guys out there and mix up our lineup as best we can," Gardenhire said. "We'll see if we can move him in there a little bit more and take a little pressure off the two catchers in the lineup."

Oh, and by the way...

"And also, we're going to have (Justin) Morneau probably get some first-base action. ... Probably on this road trip somewhere."

Currently penciled in as the every-day designated hitter, Morneau hasn't played first base in a game since mid-March, although he has continued to take groundballs.

Morneau said last month that doctors told him his concussion symptoms have a better chance of returning the more worn out he gets. Eliminating first base from the equation gives him a better chance to stay fresh.

Morneau's bat ignited over the last two weeks of spring training after he ditched defense. Through the first nine games of the regular season he is hitting .206/.270/.353 with a home run and two doubles.

If Morneau were able to play first base on a more regular basis, it would open up the Twins' options in right field and at designated hitter. Rather than using Ryan Doumit in right field, for instance, Gardenhire could slot him in at DH and use a better defensive outfielder, such as Trevor Plouffe or Thomas.

The Twins will travel to New York for four games against the Yankees, then to Tampa for three games against the Rays.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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