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Updated: June 24th, 2011 4:38pm
Neck surgery to sideline Morneau until August; Mauer to play some 1B?

Neck surgery to sideline Morneau until August; Mauer to play some 1B?

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The injury news continues to get worse for the Minnesota Twins.

First baseman Justin Morneau will undergo neck surgery to alleviate pain from his ailing neck, according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane, who told reporters in Milwaukee that the former AL MVP will miss approximately six weeks.

Manager Ron Gardenhire added that catcher Joe Mauer could see time at first base with Morneau sidelined.

In a conference call with reporters, Morneau said he has been unable to feel the pointer finger on his left index finger since the end of March due to numbness, which could help explain his .225/.281/.338 batting line with only four home runs in 231 plate appearances.

Regarding having surgery, Morneau said, "I think the thing that kind of made the decision was hearing that [the numbness and weakness in the arm] could be permanent."

"It's numbness and the weakness," he added. "I can play through pain; I can't bat with one arm. You saw the results,"

Morneau is currently on the disabled list with a sore wrist, but he has also been playing with a pinched nerve in his neck that has caused vertebrae inflammation and shoulder pain. The first baseman received a cortisone shot on April 22 to help calm the pain.

Morneau first revealed his neck and shoulder pain during spring training in mid-March, when he was still attempting to come back from concussion symptoms.

As for Mauer, the team has held strong all season saying the three-time batting champ will not play any position besides catcher in 2011. But Morneau's injury, and the need to give Mauer a break at times from catching duties, could open up new opportunities. Gardenhire also said catcher Rene Rivera could see action at first base as well.

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