Morneau: pre-derby ovation had him 'real close to tears in the eyes'
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MINNEAPOLIS - Justin Morneau got his All-Star ovation Monday night at Target Field.
When he was introduced after about an hour rain delay, the fans at Target Field gave a loud ovation as the former Twins slugger alternated saluting with his cap and patting his chest.
"It was pretty amazing. I was real close to getting some tears in the eyes there at the beginning," Morneau said. "It's hard to prepare yourself for something like that. It was awesome. It's something I'll never forget."
Morneau didn't make the All-Star team, and was passed up again after the final vote, which Anthony Rizzo won. Teammate Troy Tulowitzki said Monday afternoon that it was an easy decision to pick Morneau as the final entrant in the home run derby because it was such a good story.
Morneau got his nod from the fans, and he said it was even more than he anticipated.
"Obviously it's always nice to be received well but to have something like that - especially after the last few years that were pretty rough for myself and the team - to come back and feel that ovation, that appreciation is something I'll never forget," Morneau said.
He visited his old locker stall in the Twins clubhouse Monday. As a National Leaguer, he used the visiting clubhouse at Target Field.
"There's a lot of good friends over here. Lot of good relationships. Just lucky to know all these people and I miss them, but that's part of life and part of the business. You're fortunate you got to work with people like that for such a long time and you move on to something else, and you never know when you'll come back."
(Read into that comment however you'd like; Morneau is set to make $6.75 million from the Rockies next season and has a $9 million mutual option the season after that.)
"These fans are great here. They've always treated me well," Morneau said. "I think there's a mutual respect between myself and the fans. I was fortunate to play in one place for so long and to play in front of the fans here."
The derby itself didn't go so well. Morneau hit two home runs in the first round, but lost in a swing-off to Todd Frazier. But if you gave Tulowitzki or those that run the show truth serum and asked if it was more important for a National Leaguer to win the home run derby or for moments Morneau's to be celebrated, the guess here is that they'd choose the latter.
"Coming back to Minnesota it made my decision very easy," Tulowitzki said. "There are other guys in the N.L. that wanted to participate all along and my choice was going to be Morneau because of how great the story is."