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Justin Morneau: “there comes a point when you can only torture yourself so long”

Feb 24, 2012, 9:32 AM EDT

morneau getty wide Getty Images

Justin Morneau spoke with the media this morning down in Fort Myers and he does not sound like a man who is totally healthy and ready to proceed with his career.

Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune reported that “he looks skinny” and “sounds worried.” Morneau said that he had not had concussion symptoms since January. But just last month there were reports that he hadn’t had them since December, which suggests his issues still aren’t going away.

Indeed, Morneau sounds practically fatalistic about his career:

“I don’t think there will be a career if it’s something I’m dealing with..I’m obviously not going to continue to mess around with this if it continues to be a problem. There comes a point where you can only torture yourself for so long … I continue to look for something positive, and look how far I’ve come in the last week or in the last month and just hope it continues to go well.”

If it’s torture to try to come back, one can only assume that he’s not willing to put up with much more of it.

This is not a good morning for Twins fans. Or anyone else who is concerned about Justin Morneau’s health and career.

  1. phillyphever - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    It’s over Justin, just retire before it gets worse.

    • JBerardi - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      On the internet, everyone gets to be a qualified neurologist!

    • alexo0 - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      I believe phillyphever offered that same advice to Ryan Howard. Except it wasn’t regarding his ACL, but rather his declining OPS.

  2. Jeremiah Graves - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    I think the worst part about something like this is all of the fans and media members and whatnot who want to question his “toughness.” It happened like crazy when he first went down with the concussion in 2010 and never came back. Everyone turned on him.

    We’re talking about a dude’s f’n BRAIN. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure the brain plays a pivotal role in the whole “staying alive” and “not crapping your pants at random intervals” process that we all enjoy.

    If this is the end of the road, my hope is people use it as a chance to take concussions and brain damage a little more seriously, rather than using an injury they can’t see (ie; if it ain’t broken or bleedin’…) as an excuse to drag a player through the mud because of a lack of some outdated x-factor like “toughness” or “grit” or “heart.”

    Best of luck to Morneau, no matter what happens.

    • JBerardi - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      For that matter, fans should really stop questioning player “toughness” with regard to all injuries. There’s something incredibly galling about some fat slob drinking Bud Lite by the case on his sofa, talking about JD Drew is a wimp because his spine is a train wreak. Meanwhile that same dude of course has some Al-Bundy-esque story about how he would have been in the NFL or the Navy SEALS if it hadn’t been for that damn knee injury his senior year of high school…

      Not that they (some of them, anyway) aren’t rewarded handsomely for it, but playing professional sports takes a real tole on people. So many of them deal with chronic pain in their careers, and for many, they’ll continue to deal with it until the day they die. And I’m not saying we need to pity these people, because playing pro sports is a dream for so many and I’m sure none of these athletes would trade their careers for anything, but, like most dreams, there’s some real sacrifices that come with achieving it. And we should be aware of that.

      • thefalcon123 - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        I can’t thumbs up this enough. Sports can take an incredible toll on the body, and those injuries can have massive repercussions for the rest of their lives.

        My wife was a competitive figure skater in her teens. The results as she nears 30 is a litany of severe joint and back problems that require weekly visits to physical therapy and will probably require back and hip surgery at some point in the near-ish future. And she stopped figure staking at 18! Professional athletes train constantly and play in their 30s and 40s. Just look at the shocking number of surgeries baseball players have and tell me again they someone needs to “toughen up”!

      • phukyouk - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        ” some fat slob drinking Bud Lite by the case on his sofa, ”

        I don’t drink beer but you pretty much just summed up my Apr-Oct for the last 20 yrs. I’m a little depressed now

  3. sknut - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    It sounds like Morneau has talked alot to Corey Koskie who went through hell after his concussions and is pretty realistic about his condition. I can’t blame him for that, he seems like a real good dude and I just want him to be healthy and happy life. Even if he has to retire early no sport or game is worth it. Twins fans are rooting for you Justin not just on the field but off of it as well.

    • kopy - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Exactly. There’s a part of me that’s hoping he’s just become very realistic, self-aware, and accepting of his potential fate, but he turns out just fine anyway. We’ll see, though.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      Not just Twin fans, but all fans! I’m a Cub fan and I’d love to see Morenau get back to work. But I most importantly just want the poor guy to be okay. Continue to heal, Justin. Many of us love ya!

  4. azvikefan - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Doesn’t sound good for Justin. I hope he can get healthy and continue playing, but if not, he’s gotta do whats best for him.
    I for one will never consider him a pussy for quitting.

  5. shawnuel - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Sad day for Twins fans, sure, but Morneau is who i really feel sympathy for right now. This is a guy who won an MVP and, when healthy, was arguably one of the top 10 offensive players in the game and a potential HOF 1B. To be struck down like this when he is in his prime is a damn shame. Now, if he can’t come back from the concussions, we can certainly hope that he would be able to lead a normal life outside of baseball but no one wants their life-blood wrested away from them like this.

  6. Tribe&Browns&Cavs - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    That’s a bummer. Even though he plays for a division rival he was fun to watch. Seems like a good dude, wish him the best.

  7. xpensivewinos - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    It’s a shame. Amazing how that slide where he got injured didn’t seem like all that big of a deal when it happened.

    You just never know from one moment to the next………..and how something like this will impact one person versus another.

  8. thetruth1313 - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Even as a Red Sox fan, I have always been a huge fan of Morneau. I remember seeing him as well as Mauer in the minors with the New Britain Rock Cats when I was living in Connecticut.

    Sometimes its just best to walk away.

  9. themohel - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    It so often seems that the fame of sport can be intoxicating enough that people regularly keep participating when it is dangerous to do so, such as with countless boxers and many football players. Here’s to hoping that Mr. Morneau has a strong support system that helps him make the right decision for him, whatever it may be. And here’s to hoping that the Twins are thinking of him first (and I suspect they are).

  10. alexo0 - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    It took losing hockey’s biggest star for the press, and subsequently the league, to be motivated enough to look at concussions as a serious thing. Sadly, if Morneau is forced to retire, I don’t think he was a big enough star in a big enough market to really create any sort of league-wide awareness in baseball about the realities of concussions. Yes there is the 7 day DL spot, but that is a drop in the bucket. The reaction to losing Jeter to concussions vs losing Morneau to concussions would be vast.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:11 AM

      The reaction is out there, unfortunately there are far too many fans and players who don’t care what happens to these guys 1-5-10 years in the future, they just want to see them play. I posted this on the last Morneau update thread, and it still applies [regarding ex New Orleans Saint Kyle Turley who is suffering severe side effects from Post Concussion Syndrome]:

      One month, he had vertigo every day, bouts in which he felt as if he were stuck to a wall. But this was worse. He asked his wife if he could sit on her stool for a moment. The warmup band was still playing, and he remembers saying, “I’m just going to take a nap right here until the next band comes on.” Then he was lying on the floor, and someone was standing over him. “The guy was freaking out,” Turley recalled. “He was saying, ‘Damn, man, I couldn’t find a pulse,’ and my wife said, ‘No, no. You were breathing.’ I’m, like, ‘What? What?’ ”

      They picked him up. “We went out in the parking lot, and I just lost it,” Turley went on. “I started puking everywhere. I couldn’t stop. I got in the car, still puking. My wife, she was really scared, because I had never passed out like that before, and I started becoming really paranoid. I went into a panic. We get to the emergency room. I started to lose control. My limbs were shaking, and I couldn’t speak. I was conscious, but I couldn’t speak the words I wanted to say.”

      http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/19/091019fa_fact_gladwell

  11. JB (the original) - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    I feel bad for Justin, and to be honest, if it’s taking this long to not even be ready/confident in his ability to play, he should probably walk away instead of beating himself up, floundering around for another year or two, hoping he’ll be ok. What pisses me off, is the Twins FO BS of ‘we think he’ll be fine’, ‘everything we’ve heard is good’, and basically doing jack squat both last year and this year in regards to being prepared to have someone man 1B (and provide production) if he couldn’t go. Yes, they had Cuddy last year, but then that left a hole production wise in the OF. Yes, they have Doumit, who they say can man 1B after seeing all 37 innings he’s played that position over the last 5 years. Or they can put the games most expensive singles hitter over there in Baby Jesus–ticking him off, and still getting no power, while putting Doumit, not exactly an AllStar catcher defensively behind the plate. Guess we’ll be throwing Parmalee to the wolves and Gardy will have a new whipping boy when he struggles making the leap from AA. Again, I don’t blame Justin, but the FO’s refusal to take the blinders off and look at reality is really frustrating.

  12. cur68 - Feb 24, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Good luck with the recovery Justin Morneau. For a good dude and a nice Canadian lad to suffer like this, well, it breaks my heart. I can only hope, as can we all, that he manages to come out it and be the player he used to be. He was a beast. Get well soon, man.

  13. El Bravo - Feb 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    That totally sucks. Justin Morneau is awesome and a fine person from what I’ve read about him. Bummer.

  14. tucknrolle - Feb 24, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Morneau and Crosby out for such a long amount of time with concussion symptoms. Yet NFL players fight to return the same game or the following week. What a difference a guaranteed contracts make.

  15. raysfan1 - Feb 24, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Knew we’d get a comment about footballers. Tuck–please understand a few things…(1) not all concussions are the same, either in character or severity, (2) football players HAVE been forced to retire due to concussions and post-concussion syndrome (Merril Hoge, Steve Young, Troy Aikman being examples), and (3) who the hell say Morneau hasn’t been fighting like crazy to get back on the field?

    • tucknrolle - Feb 24, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      explained further. It’s not right that football players have to rush gettIng back on the field or risk being cut. I think that the Morneau and Crosby situations have been handled properly. I was just comparing the difference between the NFL and other sports.

  16. johnnyru131 - Feb 24, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Actually they consider concussions all the same. I never realized how serious a concussion really is until my son got one. He wasn’t allowed to do anything, no tv, music, video games, playing his musical instrument, he basically just had to read his brain for a week until he could take the impact testing. A concussion is all chemical and it’s like throwing a rock in still water and the ripples are like the chemicals in your brain and you have to wait til the chemicals or ripples stop and come back down to normalcy which can take a week or it can take a long long time and if you get a second concussion while you have one already there is nothing you can do to fix and you’ll most likely be screwed the rest of your life. I don’t wish concussions on anyone. Not fun

  17. foreverchipper10 - Feb 24, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    This is sad news any way you look at it. I wish the best for Mr. Morneau.

    Also I one again cannot see any previously posted comments. WTF?

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