Posted at 7:33 AM on April 18, 2009
by David Zingler
Here is the first of my tri-annual interviews with Twins slugger Justin Morneau:
DZ: You had a big offseason - the wedding - you're a married man now - how has that affected your life?
MORNEAU: It's been great. Not too much has changed; I still don't get to make any decisions on my own. That hasn't changed really. Seriously though, it's been great. She's a great person and I'm lucky.
DZ: Where did you go for the honeymoon?
MORNEAU: We went down to Turks & Caicos (Islands). It was the clearest water I've ever seen...It is sort of near the Dominican (Republic) - it is small; I think there are like 30 islands (around there). It was amazing, it was laid back; I sat on the beach for a week. It was everything I needed to do.
DZ: Did anyone recognize you down there?
MORNEAU: Nope. It was perfect.
DZ: Do baseball players wear wedding bands on the field?
MORNEAU: No, not usually. I don't know if the pitchers do or not, (but) I can't hit with that on.
DZ: Last season, you guys lost the playoff game (and) the season didn't end as well you probably would have liked on a personal level. How long does it take you to shake that off?
MORNEAU: That one was tough. That was the toughest loss I've ever had in any sporting event. When you give it everything you have and you still come up short, it is a tough feeling and it took awhile for that to go away. Once we stepped on the field for spring training, it is all new and we get to start all over. We'll just try and do it again.
DZ: Did having the wedding coming up help keep your mind off of (the playoff loss).
MORNEAU: It was a good distraction to have something else going on instead of sitting there all winter by myself thinking about that stuff. I watched enough hockey to distract myself too.
DZ: Do you watch the playoffs after a season like that when you are so close to getting in?
MORNEAU: It's tough when you feel like you should be there, are good enough to be there and you're not. I think I watched the last outs of the World Series - I don't remember watching any of the other games. I'd look at the scores, see who won or whatever. Other than that, it was tough.
DZ: Last year you played all 163 games. Is the something when you get into August, September - are you conscious of that; that you've played in every game?
MORNEAU: I was aware of it during the year. My goal every year is to be healthy enough to play every game and fortunately, last year I was. I feel like hopefully I make the team - the line-up better - no matter how I feel. Hopefully, it helps the guys around me get good pitches and that kind of stuff. That's the reason I go out there. I never want to take a day off if I feel like I could have done something that could help us win.
DZ: Right now with Joe (Mauer) being out, you're batting 3rd and the whole line-up is kind of off kilter, does it matter to you where you're batting and who is batting around you?
MORNEAU: It's a little different without Joe. I like having Joe hit in front of me because he's another left handed hitter and I can see how they are pitching to him and how they are trying to get him out. That's what is the biggest difference - batting 3rd or 4th doesn't really matter. With all of the speed in our line-up it seems like there are usually guys on base when I come up there and if you get hits they score for you and it doesn't matter if you're hitting 3rd, 4th or even 5th. As long as I am in that line-up, that's all that really matters.
DZ: Do you talk to Joe on a daily basis?
MORNEAU: Yeah. I usually send him a text everyday or every couple of days just to see how he's doing. He's sounded good the last few times I have talked to him, his spirits have been up and he's looking forward to getting back up here.
DZ: During the days leading up the season, there was some talk that you might go on the DL with a back problem, what is the status of that?
MORNEAU: People just had zero facts and they just made stuff up. Nobody even asked me how it was going - I said, "If this (spring training game) was a regular season game, I'd probably be playing." It was something we were being cautious with in spring training and if it were the regular season, I would have been out there. So, everything is good now. It is one of those things that kind of snowballed; one person said how bad it was, someone else added a little bit to it and it just kind of took off.
(Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)