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Justin Morneau will be in the Twins’ Opening Day lineup

Mar 31, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

Justin Morneau

After spending eight months on the sidelines following a concussion last July the Twins have their cleanup hitter back, as manager Ron Gardenhire announced today that Justin Morneau will be in the Opening Day lineup when Minnesota kicks off the season in Toronto tomorrow night.

Gardenhire told reporters that he plans to give Morneau frequent days off early in the season, which the Twins are uniquely positioned to do thanks to Jim Thome‘s presence on the bench. On days Morneau doesn’t start Thome will be in the lineup at designated hitter, Jason Kubel will move to right field, and Michael Cuddyer will take over at first base.

That’s the arrangement the Twins used in the second half last season with Morneau on the disabled list, but it’ll be interesting to see how Gardenhire finds playing time for Thome and his 1.039 OPS if Morneau proves healthy enough to play nearly every day. One of Kubel, Cuddyer, or Delmon Young would have to be on the bench.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Woo hoo! Good news for my fantasy squad!

  2. Ari Collins - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    I hope Morneau can be healthy to help us all enjoy a three-team race.

    And having to bench one of Young, Kubel, or Cuddyer isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing.

    • mntwins91 - Mar 31, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      Are you serious? Ok Kubel is a strikeout machine so he can ride the pine. I’m not a huge Cuddyer guy but he is definitely the best option in right on the team. Delmon is finally getting locked in. Oh yeah, hes only 25! Most guys are in second year at the major league at that age! He should play at least 150 games this year and will put up big numbers.

  3. trevorb06 - Mar 31, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    I hope its Cruddyer they put on the bench, maybe try and trade him for some pitching (relief or starting).

    • kander013 - Mar 31, 2011 at 12:12 PM

      The only way the Twins ever trade Cuddyer is if the team eats the majority of his contract. Even in that case it would be highly unlikely since he’s such a “team” guy.

  4. dluxxx - Mar 31, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I know that ST is just the warmup, but I have to admit that I’m a little worried about the production from both Morneau and Thome. Both had poor showings this spring, and both are question marks this season. Thome is pretty close to being on his last leg (will be 41 this season) and Morneau just hasn’t looked right hitting the ball. With that said, if either one or both can find their stride early in the season (and they can limit Thome’s ABs like we did last year to keep him fresh) then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about… Right?

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