Posted at 8:21 PM on May 20, 2008
by David Zingler
Since this is pretty long - for a blog post anyway - I'll spare you the intro paragraph. Besides, you know all about Justin Morneau already.
DZ: You guys have been up-and-down so far this season, what's your take on this team?
MORNEAU: We've had some good stretches and stretches where we haven't played very well, but that's been almost expected because we have so many young guys (who) tend to be more inconsistent. There have been a lot of positives you can take out of it.
DZ: How about all the new players in the infield, what's that like as a first baseman?
MORNEAU: It's a little different, but I am used to it after a month and a half. You get to know what their throws are going to do and what to expect...now we are pretty comfortable with each other.
DZ: You said something coming out of the Colorado series about the pitchers wanting to walk you guys and you not letting them or you guys weren't taking enough pitches or something like that...
MORNEAU: I didn't say that, I just said we didn't walk enough or we could have walked more, but (the Rockies) just took advantage of our aggressiveness.
DZ: It seems like the Twins have had problems with that...it's not a new thing...you've been more of a free-swinging kind of team. Is that something they emphasize in the minor leagues?
MORNEAU: We emphasize trying to get a pitch to hit and doing something with it. Obviously if you're a lead-off kind of guy, you emphasize getting on base, but we've never been a team like Oakland that says you can't go past A-Ball if you don't have a .400 on-base-percentage or whatever their rules are over there.
DZ: Is on-base-percentage something you pay attention to personally?
MORNEAU: Not really (laughs).
DZ: What is the number one stat you look at?
MORNEAU: Wins. That's all that really matters. If your on-base-percentage is .400 and you're scoring runs and helping the team, it's good, but if your on-base-percentage is .400 and you get stuck at first base, it doesn't do you any good. Sometimes it's better to be more aggressive and hit a double and get into scoring position because I am not going to steal second if I get (walked). There's benefit to speed guys having a high on-base-percentage and obviously if you get on base you are going to open up more holes. (On-base-percentage) is important, but it's not something we live or die by.
DZ: It's been almost five years since you first got called up here, when you look back at that time, what do you take away from it?
MORNEAU: It's amazing - the difference - of how comfortable I feel. Everything - how much I've learned...pauses to watch the Rangers take batting practice...this guy can hit...how comfortable I feel defensively...
DZ: Is that (Josh) Hamilton?
DZ: How does this guy basically not play for two years and come to the major leagues last year and do what he did?
MORNEAU: Unbelievable talent.
DZ: I was blown away, I thought as a Rule V pick he would have problems.
MORNEAU: To play only 15 games above A-Ball (and go to the majors) is...
DZ: Yeah, that's not going to happen everyday. How about your personal life - you are getting more established - I heard you are getting married.
MORNEAU: Yep. I am getting married this off-season coming up. We got a place here last year in May, so we've been in there for about a year. I signed a long-term deal so I am going to be here for a while. It's nice, I like Minnesota and everything is going pretty well. I can't really complain right now.
DZ: How about the contact...does seeing that kind of money ($80 million) just kind of blow your mind?
MORNEAU: It still really hasn't sunk in yet because my lifestyle hasn't really changed. I don't really do anything different. I go home, watch TV and hang out...I don't really do anything different than I did (before). I don't have to worry about contract negotiations for a long time and that kind of puts your mind at ease. But other than that I am still the same person, I am just very fortunate.
DZ: How about the perception by other people? It kind of puts a bull's-eye on you, doesn't it?
MORNEAU: Yeah, a lot of people think because you signed that deal you instantly have that kind of money and half of it goes to taxes, but it's still an insane amount of money. It's going to be a long time before I do all of things I want to do. I want to open a youth baseball league...it's a great situation. I will be able to do a lot of things and help a lot of people.
DZ: Any big purchases for you or the people close to you?
MORNEAU: I bought a new house in...February...in Arizona and I'll be there all winter.
DZ: Going way back to the beginning of the year - obviously your numbers are great right now - but, you started out 0 for 13...when you see the average of .000, what's that like?
MORNEAU: I signed the deal and I was trying to prove I was worth the contract in the first series - earn the whole thing in the first series (laughs) - you can't do that. Once I got that first hit and got that out of the way - I've been comfortable since then. It stands out a lot more when you slump the first four games instead of somewhere in the middle (of the season) where no one notices.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)