Once again, it appears as though Justin Morneau and Delmon Young will not be in the starting lineup, and it’s possible that neither will be available to play once again. This has become a frustrating trend not just for these two players, but for the Twins in general.

Every season, it seems like there’s at least one player that suffers an injury/illness and is tagged with the “day-to-day” label. However, what was first viewed as a player needing a couple days to get healthy becomes a week or longer without ever being put on the DL. We’ve seen this with Joe Crede, J.J. Hardy, and now Morneau and Young, and that’s just in recent years.

To the Twins’ credit, they did put Joe Mauer on the DL almost immediately rather than benching him for a few games before admitting that the DL was probably the best route for him, but that’s assuming his bilateral leg weakness just popped up recently. Mauer himself admitted that his legs weren’t as strong as they needed to be, and with his slump to start the season, it’s possible that his leg weakness was affecting his hitting. In this case, this doesn’t really differ much from the aforementioned players, except that Mauer attempted to play through his struggles. As we witnessed these first few weeks, playing through pain (assuming this is true) is not always as admirable as we like to think it should be.

I don’t know who’s to blame for these problems. On one hand, I feel like it’s easy to criticize the training staff for failing to diagnose injuries correctly. We did see this issue come up with Pat Neshek’s hand last year. Yet, it could also be on the players. Maybe they believe that their soreness just needs a few days to heal, and it turns out that they needed more rest than they thought. Finally, we could also argue that the front office is to blame. There’s a possibility that they don’t see the injuries as justifying a 15-day absence from the team, so they decide to wait it out instead of calling up some replacements from the minors.

Perhaps all three groups are to blame. Add it all up, and it leads to Ron Gardenhire becoming frustrated that he’s basically playing with a 2-man bench, and his available players are the backup catcher (Drew Butera/Steve Holm) and the backup infielder (Alexi Casilla/Matt Tolbert) or outfielder (Jason Repko), depending on where Michael Cuddyer is playing.

As a fan, it’s easy to say that Morneau and Young should just be put on the disabled list so the team can have more players at their disposal. But us fans also fail to see the red tape that gets involved, so seemingly easy decisions like these end up being far more difficult than we imagine.

The final thing I want to talk about is the constant comments being made that these players need to toughen up. Unfortunately, playing while hurt has become a badge of honor of sorts, even though very few players can actually do it and remain successful. As I just suggested above, Joe Mauer could have been playing with sore legs, and it turned him into a run-of-the-mill catcher. J.J. Hardy tried playing through a sore wrist, and it severely affected his hitting to the point that fans were calling him a bad shortstop. Delmon Young has sore ribs to go with being sick. If he continued playing, he’d probably struggle as well.

Young, Morneau, and Mauer all have or have had the flu. While the comments about toughening up are actually only a couple per day, they still outnumber the number of comments from people wishing these players would get well. I don’t know if these people have ever had the flu, but it’s not like a cold. I had the flu a couple years ago, and it was nasty. I can imagine what these three players are going through, except I had the benefit of being able to rest in bed. These guys – with the exception of being hospitalized – are trying to come to the ballpark every day while getting over their illnesses.

Remember how your doctor tells you to get plenty of rest? These guys probably aren’t able to take that advice because of their careers. If you’re one of the people wishing to tell these guys to just man up and get back onto the field, then I’d respond to you by saying that you should go get the flu, and while you’re laying in bed wishing you could just fall asleep, I’ll tell you that now is the perfect time to get started on getting more exercise in your life. Doesn’t sound so easy, does it?

Comparing yourself getting out of bed and going through your regular day while hurting to an athlete’s life just doesn’t work, so just stop acting like they’re the same.


On a lighter note, I will be working games at Target Field tonight and Saturday. I’ll post on my Twitter where I’ll be for the game, so you can stop by and say hi if you want.


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