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Twins drop slumping Justin Morneau in lineup

Apr 16, 2012, 6:31 PM EDT

Chris Iannetta, Justin Morneau AP

Justin Morneau finished the spring in a frenzy, but it hasn’t carried over, as he’s hit just .206/.270/.353 with two RBI and 10 strikeouts in 34 at-bats since the regular season started. As a result, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has decided to drop him down to fifth in the lineup and insert Josh Willingham in between Joe Mauer and Morneau.

MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that it’s the first time since April 4, 2008 that Mauer and Morneau have been in the lineup and not hit back-to-back. Mauer was a No. 2 hitter that day, with Michael Cuddyer hitting third ahead of Morneau.

Dropping Morneau in the lineup seemed like the smart choice from the moment Willingham was signed by the Twins, particularly against left-handers. If nothing else, it would have served to separate the team’s two (hopefully) potent left-handed bats. Gardenhire, though, wasn’t eager to take the step, and he wasn’t willing to have Willingham and Morneau ‘platoon’ between the two spots (batting Willingham fourth versus lefties and Morneau fourth against righties would have made tons of sense).

But if there’s some hurt feelings, hopefully Gardenhire can convince Morneau that this is less about him and more about Willingham, who has been one of the game’s hottest hitters with a .419/.514/.871 line to date. Morneau has actually been pretty good against righties so far, hitting .292. However, he’s 0-for-10 against lefties.

  1. jimbo1949 - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Welcome back, Carl Pavano.

  2. bigal5888 - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    What’s up with bashing Gardy? Insinuating its silly he doesn’t want to separate Mauer and Morneau. He’s a top five manager and I’ll trust his judgement, not the judgement of someone who likes Willingham now that he’s off to a hot start. I wonder if you’d feel the same way had he started out slow?

  3. paperlions - Apr 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Man, Gardy obviously has no idea how to manage….he is supposed to rip Morneau on a radio show (or to a reporter if no microphone or camera is available), then bench him for at least one game.

    • proudlycanadian - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:58 PM

      Morneau obviously liked that fat pitch he received from Garcia. It became a majestic homer.

  4. ndnut - Apr 16, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    Gardy did say to the media that Morneau is not playing tomorrow because C.C. Is pitching.

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