Be it standing up for Canada or expounding on the future of the Minnesota Twins, Justin Morneau is ready and willing to take a stand these days.
The Minnesota Twins first baseman from New Westminster, B.C., certainly seems to have found a voice befitting a former American League MVP and three-time all-star, knowing when to speak softly and when to break out his stick.
The latter he displayed after July’s all-star game in St. Louis, when upset that a canned version of “O Canada” was played before the game, he told reporters afterwards that “I wasn’t very impressed with that,” and it “didn’t really go over too well.”
Some players might have left it at that. Morneau didn’t, writing an email to commissioner Bud Selig, and getting some results.
“The commissioner actually sent me a letter personally apologizing for it and saying it’s not going to happen again, that he’ll definitely take care of it,” Morneau said in a recent interview. “I’m not one to complain about a lot of things but (the taped ’O Canada’) got to me a little bit.
“For me, it was something that was pretty important, and it’s all taken care of now. That’s something I’m proud of.”
Morneau spoke a little bit softer later in July, when he and teammates Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan made what amounted to a public plea for management to make some moves at the trade deadline, and again made a similar impact.
After detailing to the Minneapolis Star Tribune their frustration over Minnesota’s traditional inactivity at the deadline and how the team might be a couple of players away from chasing down the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers, the Twins went out and got shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics. Then, they added starter Carl Pavano and relievers Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay in waiver deals last month, bolstering the team for a post-season push.
Before that, the last impact move made in-season by the Twins was their 2003 acquisition of Shannon Stewart from the Toronto Blue Jays for Bobby Kielty.
“It was a good sign, we don’t do that very often,” said Morneau. “We felt like we were still in this race and they were showing us that they believe we’re a team that can win this year. ”
“We have a new ballpark coming next year and obviously they want to plan for the future, but it also showed our fans and the guys in the clubhouse that we still plan on trying to win this year, too, not just living in the future. ”
“Obviously we’re running out of time, but we definitely have the players that are capable of getting this team to the playoffs.”
The Twins are still 5 1-2 games back of Detroit but with seven games remaining versus the Tigers, a comeback is unlikely, although not out of the question.
It got a little tougher on Monday, when Morneau was ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his lower back, after hurting himself sliding headfirst into first base on Friday.
“We still have a chance,” he said. “It’s been done before, hopefully we’re a team that can do it again.”