Morneau joins Twins teammate Mauer on sideline with flu

April 18, 2011|By La Velle E. Neal III, Star Tribune

First baseman Justin Morneau on Monday missed a second straight game with the flu, remaining at the team hotel during the afternoon while the Twins prepared to play Baltimore.

Sound familiar? Catcher Joe Mauer just spent the weekend laid up in a St. Petersburg hotel with what turned out to be a viral infection. Morneau was supposed to arrive at Camden Yards by game time to be examined by doctors. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had no idea when he might have Morneau available to insert into the lineup. With the team entering play on Monday 5-10, the Twins can't afford another key player to miss a stretch of games with an illness.

Morneau stayed away from the ballpark early because one thing teams fear the most is someone getting sick and passing it around the clubhouse. If a player comes down with the flu he is usually sent home or kept home, if possible. As for Mauer ...

Mauer on Monday went through his annual checkup with the Baltimore-area specialist who treated his inflamed sacroiliac joint in 2009, then he was scheduled to head straight to the airport and catch a flight back home to the Twin Cities.

Gardenhire said Mauer will be examined by the Twins medical staff upon his return. He'll eventually begin a rehabilitation program, but he has to recover from an illness that has caused him to lose 12 pounds.

"He's still sick,'' Gardenhire said. "He won't be doing a whole lot over the next few days. Once we get back home we will get a feel for where he is at.''

Mauer is on the 15-day disabled list and not eligible to come off until April 28.

Other injury news

Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka, on the 15-day DL while recovering from a broken left fibula, has had another X-Ray of his leg taken and Twins doctors are pleased with his progress.

Nishioka has been riding a bike and walking in a pool. Gardenhire said the infielder's pool work will be expanded to include running. He remains on a four- to six-week timetable to recover, although Gardenhire admitted it's hard to say when he'll return until he can get on the field and begin baseball-related activities. Eventually, he will head out on a minor league rehabilitation stint.

"No on knows for sure,'' Gardenhire said. "That was kind of the timetable thrown out there.''

* Righthander Kevin Slowey, also on the 15-day DL, has thrown in the bullpen as he recovers from bursitis in his shoulder and will probably throw another session this week.

"Once we get home we will decide where to go from there,'' Gardenhire said.

Slowey is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday; the Twins begin a homestand Friday against Cleveland.

* Gardenhire mentioned that Delmon Young battled an upset stomach over the weekend but was able to play through it.

* The Twins' victory over Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays on Sunday was their first in nine games against a righthanded starting pitcher. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest winless streak to start a season for the franchise since the 1904 Washington Senators lost 10 straight decisions to righthanded starters.

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