Jul 19, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT
Justin Morneau has been cleared to resume “baseball activities” three weeks after undergoing surgery to address a pinched nerve in his neck, which according to trainer Rick McWane means “he’s ready to take ground balls, play catch, and run around.”
Swinging the bat will come later, however, so even setting aside the Twins’ inability to get any injured players back within their initial return timetables this season Morneau is unlikely to be ready before mid-August.
Minnesota has used Michael Cuddyer as the primary Morneau replacement, shifting him from right field to first base, but Joe Mauer and Luke Hughes have also gotten starts at first base recently while Trevor Plouffe has become a semi-regular in right field.
Between back surgery in 2009, a concussion in 2010, and neck surgery this season Morneau has played just 271 of the Twins’ last 486 games.
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