Notebook: Morneau wants payroll to stay up; Span 'a little jarred'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The re-emergence of concussion symptoms sidelined Minnesota Twins' first baseman Justin Morneau on Aug. 28, and the decision to undergo mild knee and foot surgery on Sept. 19 officially shelved him for the rest of the year.
On Wednesday, Morneau spoke with reporters in the clubhouse about what turned out to be an extremely disappointing season.
"It's hard to find any positives in this season," said Morneau, who hit .227/.285/.333 with only four home runs in 288 plate appearances. "For myself, there's nothing positive I can take out of it. Disappointing is probably an understatement. ...
"I'll try to erase everything from my mind and try to use it as motivation to try and come back and play at the level I expect of myself next year. It'll be a long winter and I think once we get down to spring training everyone will be chomping at the bit to get back, and hopefully this was just a little bump in the road for what this organization has been for the last 10 years."
Morneau has emerged over the past few seasons as one of the clear leaders in the Twins' clubhouse, but because of how often he's been sidelined recently, the former MVP has been reluctant at times this season to speak up.
That didn't stop him on Wednesday from expressing his desire for the front office to keep its foot on the gas pedal.
"Hopefully, we'll bring Cuddy and Kubel back," he said. "If not, it'll be an opportunity for someone else and that money will be spent somewhere else. It's something that whatever Billy (Smith) and everyone else deems necessary to improve this team.
"With the fan base selling out every game, I don't think you can sit back and not try to win with this opportunity. Payroll they always say is based on attendance and revenue and all the rest of it, so revenue should still be up next year and payroll should be up and the expectations will definitely be up."
In order for this season's "bump in the road" to remain just that, it's likely Morneau will need to return at or near 100% next season, along with Span, Joe Mauer and others.
Morneau said he's "not back to normal yet," regarding the concussion symptoms he retriggered on a dive last month, "but from a year ago to where I am today it's not even close. Hopefully, I'll get some good rest this offseason and I can get back on the program and be strong going into the offseason."
Morneau also still feels numbness in his left index finger following surgery earlier this season to repair a nerve in his neck.
"Not permanent, hopefully," he said. "The nerve has to regenerate from where it was damaged. It could take a long time. They said it could be inch per month (down his left arm), so it could be a really long time, so I don't know. The strength was the thing that was really important in that and I think that's back to normal.
"The strength in my arm and shoulder and everything is better. But they said the numbness is the last thing to go away. So if that happens someday, I'll be happy, but I'm not going to hold my breath until it does."
Signed through 2013 at $14 million annually, Morneau hasn't played a full season since 2008.
Span 'jarred,' but pleased
After crashing into the center-field fence in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game, outfielder Denard Span said he felt "a little jarred" on Wednesday.
Span was held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons for the season finale, which means he finishes the season with a .261/.326/.353 batting line in only 310 plate appearances.
Initially sidelined on June 6 with a concussion, Span missed nearly two months before returning on Aug. 2. He played in nine games until Aug. 13, but recurring migraine symptoms and dizzy spells forced him to shut it down again until Sept. 21 when he returned to play in four games -- a short but productive stretch that Span says "made my season."
"It meant a lot for me to come back, just to see if I could come back from something of this magnitude," said Span, who went 4-for-17 with two triples and a double in his most recent return. "So for me, I couldn't have asked for more. ...
"To come back this last week and a half, for it being a tough season for me, it really made my season. It made it just to come back. If I would have went into the offseason not playing, I don't know how I would have shown up in spring training. So that was probably one of the only positive things that I can say, personally."
Despite crashing into the fence on Tuesday, Span said, "I've still got peace of mind. I'm still going to go into the offseason to see a few doctors and pay attention to these symptoms that I get occasionally. I just got to get a little rest. Now everybody gets the opportunity, not just me, but I get an opportunity to get some rest and hopefully put this behind me."
Span will head back to his hometown Tampa later this week where he plans to lay low for at least the next month before starting his offseason workout routine. He plans to visit with a visual training specialist in Florida for the second straight offseason as well, "just to kind of ... with my eyes, just quick movements with my eyes and stuff like that.
"All that stuff has been associated with my symptoms this year, so I'm going to do that and I'm going to stick with doing the vestibular stuff. It will help me with my dizziness. I'm just going to try to stick on it. I did it last year during the offseason and I came into spring training feeling a lot better. So I'm going to do the same thing this offseason."
Signed through 2014 at salaries of $3 million, $4.75m and $6.5m, Span is an integral part of any potential turnaround for the Twins. The team dangled him at the trade deadline this past offseason, but it likely makes sense on multiple levels to pair Span with the speedy Ben Revere in the outfield next season and build from there.
That is, if Span can get back to 100% sometime this offseason.