Gardy Admits Obvious, Doubts Morneau Will Return This Season

Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday what most already assumed. He doubts first baseman Justin Morneau – out since suffering a concussion July 7 – will return this season.

I’ve had a bad feeling about Morneau’s condition for some time, simply considering his history as a multiple concussion sufferer. I blogged a couple of weeks after the injury asking people what they thought the Twins’ fortunes would be if Morneau was done for the season, something at the time I had no reason to be sure of, but something I thought was a possibility.

Last year, when Morneau’s back kept him out for the final month of the season, I thought the Twins would get swept by the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. They were too overmatched.

The difference between this year and last year is a productive Delmon Young and a healthy Jim Thome, plus the fact that Danny Valencia is ions better than Matt Tolbert (the Twins’ starting third baseman in the playoffs last year).

Morneau was off to an MVP start to the season. And while the Twins could sure use him in a playoff series, it’s not nearly the devastating blow as it was a year ago. This year’s team sports a far more balanced lineup.

So even without Morneau, I think the Twins are going to be a tough team to deal with in the playoffs.

Unable to set their playoff rotation last year after an incredible come-from-behind run to the division title, the Twins sent an inexperienced Brian Duensing to the mound for Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium, less than 24 hours after winning Game 163 against Detroit at the Metrodome.

This year, that same Duensing has got another year under his belt. He’s a little more experienced, and he’s just the third starter on a team that’s ridden Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano as a solid 1-2 punch in the rotation.