Morneau talks neck surgery (Game 84 vs. Rays)

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins first baseman Justin Morneau returned to Target Field for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment on his neck today and told reporters the procedure went well.

Morneau, who is expected to be out until mid-August, said the plan is to rest for the next ten to 14 days before ramping up his baseball activities. He also had his cast removed from his sprained left wrist on Friday.

“I haven’t really been able to do much,” Morneau said. “I’m feeling better every day, getting more range of motion every day. As a bonus, the wrist felt a lot better when we got the cast off. It actually felt a lot better this time than when they took the cast off the first time. I thought I was going to be more stiff. It’s going good. Still a ways away, unfortunately. It’s getting better.”

Morneau, though, said he still has numbness in his left index finger, but that he hopes it’ll go away with time. But he added the pain in his neck and shoulder that plagued him before the surgery has started to subside.

“The sort of pain down my arm has felt better than it did,” said Morneau, who will have stitches removed from his neck tommorow. “It’s hard to tell right now, because I don’t have the range of motion yet. It doesn’t feel normal yet. It’s still sore from the surgery.”

The 2006 American League MVP also said he doesn’t think the injury will keep him out the entire season like last year, when a concussion suffered July 7 kept him out of action the rest of the season. He said this injury is less frustrating than the concussion because at least there’s a timetable this time.

“It shouldn’t be [season-ending],” Morneau said. “That’s the reason we did it. If that was the case, we would have waited until the offseason. This was with the hopes of being able to play that last month-and-a-half, close to two months healthy and go into the offseason healthy, and hopefully talk about the playoffs and hopefully be healthy for the playoffs. That was the goal, instead of wait until the end and all of the sudden it’s going on longer and that’s an entire miserable season, instead of finishing on a good note.”

Lineups for the 7:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Rays (47-38)

1. Johhny Damon, DH
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Matt Joyce, RF
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
7. John Jaso, C
8. Sam Fuld, LF
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

RHP James Shields, (8-5, 2.45 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 4.23 K/BB)

Twins (37-46)

1. Ben Revere CF
2. Alexi Casilla 2B
3. Joe Mauer C
4. Michael Cuddyer 1B
5. Jim Thome DH
6. Danny Valencia 3B
7. Rene Tosoni LF
8. Jason Repko RF
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka SS

RHP Scott Baker (6-5, 3.15 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 3.48 K/BB)

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