Even on a day off, the Minnesota Twins continue to boost their lead in the AL Central division race.
The second-place Chicago White Sox lost to Detroit on Thursday, increasing the Twins’ lead in the division to six games heading into the start of tonight’s series against Cleveland.
The Twins continue to do all of this despite not having first baseman and former AL MVP Justin Morneau in the lineup. He’s been out for the last two months with post-concussion symptoms after a collision at second base with Toronto Blue Jays infielder John McDonald in early July.
Morneau is still optimistic he will be back this season, but the organization doesn’t want to rush him, nor should he be rushed.
Morneau could learn from the recovery of Corey Koskie, who was at Target Field on Sunday to take part in the Legends Game. Koskie looked as fit as he did during his playing days, seemingly out of place considering most of the former Twins participating had … er … put on a few pounds.
Koskie played seven of his nine big leagues seasons with the Twins, but his career was cut short in 2006 when, with the Milwaukee Brewers, he suffered a concussion after falling while chasing a foul ball. Koskie acknowledged after a comeback attempt that he might have pushed himself too hard in recovery, tried to come back too soon.
It was a sad way to see his career end, having played his final game in the majors at age 33. I always considered him to be the most underrated of Twins during his time in Minnesota. Fans’ eyes got fixated on the reflexes of first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, or the “Spiderman” snares of center fielder Torii Hunter, or the smile always on the face of right fielder Jacque Jones.
But Koskie is the best third baseman the Twins haveÂ had in the post-Gary Gaetti era. On a 2001 team that memorably shook its losing ways and, after eight miserable seasons, nearly made the playoffs, Koskie provided great defense at the hot corner. And at the plate, he hit .276 with 26 homers, 103 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. How’s that for a season? And he was pretty productive beyond that season as well.
Everyone knows the Twins need Morneau. And a part of Morneau really needs to be on the field again. But as long as symptoms remain, and as long as he continues to have some “bad days” mixed in with his good ones, he needs to be a spectator. It’s for the sake of his future quality of life. Plus, the Twins have a lot invested in him beyond this season. Another brilliant career can’t be cut short because of a concussion.
And a few links for you at the noon hour:
- The Football Fling is back, meaning the Forum staffers can act like experts. Here’s a PDF of our picks this week. I’m 1-0 after the Saints win.
- I did ask Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter whether or not the Legends Game will be an annual event. His reply:Â “… The Twins will definitely consider staging a Legends Game in future seasons. Not sure itâ€™s an ‘every year’ event, but I can say with some certainty that we will do it again.” Good to hear. I really enjoyed going, if you haven’t noticed.
- St. Cloud Times sports writer Mick Hatten echoes my views of a couple weeks ago, saying that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire deserves to be AL Manager of the Year if the Twins win the division. Here’s the link to my column. Unfortunately, it’s behind a paywall as an archive. I’d argue it’s worth the $2.95, but you might not.
- John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tries to give Delmon Young some props for the team’s season. He’s got 97 RBIs, despite primarily being a No. 6 or No. 7 hitter. Incredible.
- Gardy does some more gushing over Jim Thome in this story by Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- The Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen provides a to-do list for the Twins heading down the stretch.
- Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan saysÂ Brett Favre deserves a lot of the blame for the Vikings’ loss Thursday to New Orleans because of his late arrival to camp. The passing game did look out of synch last night.
- Need a diversion from sports? First question: Why? Secondly: Here’s an interesting story in the Star Tribune about Minneapolis and homegrown terrorism.