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Updated: February 24th, 2012 8:08am
Morneau 'not going to continue to mess around' if concussion lingers

Morneau 'not going to continue to mess around' if concussion lingers

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau addressed reporters for the first time this spring prior to Friday's first full-squad workout.

His message was mixed.

Morneau has spent the last four months rehabbing a number of ailments -- minor surgery on his right foot and left knee, the regeneration of a nerve in his left arm stemming from neck surgery earlier in the season, and a surgically-repaired wrist that Morneau says is "at about 90 percent."

He changed his diet, he's leaner, and he comes into camp with an optimistic attitude.

"I'm expecting to have a good year, (otherwise) I wouldn't put all the work in. I started the rehab in October and have been going pretty much since then, everything with the goal of having a healthy season and doing what I'm capable of doing. I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that was a possibility or the case."

But in reality, the elephant has yet to leave the room.

"The only thing right now that I'm worrying about coming back or bothering me as we go along is the concussion stuff," said Morneau, who added he hasn't felt significant symptoms "since January."

"(The concussion) is something that's just so unknown. ... All that other stuff, the foot, the knee, the wrist, I don't see that limiting me at all going forward."

Morneau said he comes into spring training with the intention of going through all of the workouts, starting with a full two-hour practice on Friday that includes taking swings off live pitching and groundball drills.

And while the team has placed no restrictions on his activities, Morneau said he's likely to pace himself early on.

"It's just sort of making sure I don't do too much, be too excited that I'm out there with the guys running around and playing, making sure I don't go 100 miles an hour the first couple days. I need to still realize that April 6 is the goal, and that's what I want to be ready for. By doing too much early, it can maybe go backwards. And by trying to pace myself a little bit and be ready for when I need to be ready for, hopefully it'll continue to go well. ...

"I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow and how I'm going to feel a week from now, but today I feel good. Just go from there."

What happens if the concussion symptoms come back?

"I don't think there'll be a career if it's something I'm dealing with," Morneau said. "That's the reality of the whole thing. I've kind of come to grips with that. I'm obviously not going to continue to mess around with this if it continues to be a problem. There comes a point when you can only torture yourself so long. It's something I love to do, but you keep preparing and keep being let down, that's something that nobody wants to go through, obviously. It's been a tough winter that way. I try not to think about that kind of stuff.

"Obviously it's crossed my mind, and something I've had to think about. But when that stuff comes into my mind I just continue to look for something positive and look how far I've come in the last week, or how far I've come in the last month, or whatever it is, and just continue to hope it goes 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
In this story: Justin Morneau
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