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Updated: March 9th, 2011 9:02am
Morneau 'pleased' with lack of postgame symptoms, won't play Thursday

Morneau 'pleased' with lack of postgame symptoms, won't play Thursday

by Phil Mackey
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Playing in his first baseball game on Tuesday since July 7 was a major step for Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.

The true test, however, was whether his body would respond favorably in the hours afterward.

"Actually I was pretty -- I wouldn't say surprised is a good word -- but pleased with how it went," Morneau said on Wednesday. "I was obviously sitting around all night waiting for something, but it went well. It was good. I took a little nap, had some dinner, watched a movie and went to bed. Everything was positive. I woke up (Wednesday) feeling pretty good."

Morneau -- who went 1-for-2 with a bases-clearing, three-RBI double in Tuesday's "B" game against the Pittsbugrh Pirates -- has said for months that his concussion symptoms don't flare up until after his workouts are complete.

In recent weeks, those symptoms, which Morneau described mostly as "fogginess" in late February, have dissipated gradually, to the point where he felt comfortable playing.

"We played three innings, and we've got to get to four innings, and we've go to get to five innings," Morneau said. "We've got time. We've got two weeks after that off-day before opening day. Hopefully everything continues to go well. I'll play probably every second day or whatever, until that off-day on (March) 15th."

While speaking with reporters early Wednesday morning, Morneau said he expected to make his official spring-training debut on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays. However, manager Ron Gardenhire said he received notice shortly thereafter the team wanted him to rest another day before returning to the field.

"We have a program for him," Gardenhire said. "It's a good program, and we'll just kind of follow what the doctors are saying and all those things and everybody else, trainers. We'll move him in slowly, but he feels great."

Neither the Twins nor Morneau have set a time table for when the first baseman will be ready to play in regular-season games. If everything stays on its current pace, though, opening day on April 1 is a reasonable target.

"I don't want to look too far ahead, but if everything keeps going well, that's the goal," Morneau said. "That's the hope. But if it's opening day or a week later, or whatever it is, it's not like it's going to make or break the season, but obviously we're just going to hope the next game goes well and hope the game after that goes well."

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.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Ron Gardenhire, Justin Morneau