Midway through a feature I wrote on Justin Morneau for the Maple Street Press Twins Annual this spring, I made a rather bold proclamation: "It seems Justin might be the unluckiest man in baseball."
The suggestion stemmed from Morneau's back-to-back season-ending injuries in 2009 and 2010, injuries that would have to be described as -- at the very least -- unusual.
Two years ago, Morneau missed all of September, and the playoffs, due to a fractured vertebrae that had apparently been sustained gradually over time. The following season, he missed the final three months, and again the playoffs, after suffering a concussion on a seemingly innocuous play in Toronto.
I've had my quibbles with the ridiculously over prescribed "injury-prone" label in pro baseball, but if there was ever a Twins player who represented the antithesis of the term it would have been Morneau prior to September of 2009.
Between 2006 and 2007, the first baseman missed a total of only 10 games. In 2008, he started every single one of the Twins' 163 contests. And, through August 17th of '09, he'd started all but one game.
Then, the back issue popped up. That cleared, allowing him to go on an MVP-type tear through June of 2010 before the early-July concussion. This year, in trying to return from a brain injury, Morneau has been plagued by a nasty flu, a sore wrist (the only one of these ailments that, from what I've heard, might actually be his fault), and a pinched nerve in his neck that required surgery and has had him shelved since early June.
Last week, Morneau had to temporarily stall his rehab from this latest setback when migraine headaches -- supposedly not related to the concussion or neck problem -- began to bog him down. Of course.
He's probably the best young slugger to wear a Twins uniform since Kent Hrbek retired, so it's a real shame to see Morneau's prime years being absolutely ravaged by repeated unlucky injuries. The guy is more than due for a few good breaks.
Hopefully we see a reversal of fortunes get underway when he gets back on the field for the Twins, which should be within the next couple weeks. (Barring a bout with the bubonic plague.)