It’s not surprising, but still a little sad.
Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network reported Monday night that former Twin Justin Morneau plans to officially retire after his 14-year MLB career. Morneau last played in 2016 for the White Sox, in case you had repressed that from your memory.
Before joining the White Sox for a half season in 2016, Morneau spent three years with the Rockies, where he wont the 2014 NL Batting Title; a month or so with the Pirates during their rare postseason run; and, of course, eleven years with the Twins, where he won the 2006 AL MVP.
Those were just a few of Morneau’s many accomplishments. He was also a four time All-Star (being voted in as the AL starting first baseman in 2010), a two-time Silver Slugger winner, and very famously won the 2009 Home Run Derby. Remember that? It was the year Josh Hamilton burnt himself out hitting all those dingers in the first round and the MLB official accidentally called Morneau “Jason” while handing him the derby trophy at the end.
On July 7th, 2010, Morneau was removed from a game against the Blue Jays after suffering an injury sliding into second base. Though it seemed innocuous at the time, the injury turned out to be a concussion that would greatly impact the rest of Morneau’s career. He was unable to participate in the All-Star Game that he had been voted into as a starter that year, and, in fact, did not return for the rest of the season. He missed significant time in the following seasons as well.
Morneau ends his career with 247 home runs, 985 RBI, a .281/.348/.481 batting line, and 27.3 bWAR.
As much as I love Morneau — and trust me, I deeply, deeply love Morneau — it’s almost sort of a relief he did not get another job playing in the majors like he’d been hoping. Sure, he’s 36 years old, but more importantly than that, the concussions. Everyone knows about the concussion issues. Morneau was seemingly one innocuous slide into second base from not only ending his career for good, but significantly impacting his life. It’s not worth it.
There is good news, though: In lieu of returning to the majors as a player, Morneau will be joining the Twins front office as a Special Assistant. More specifics about the role will probably come out when Morneau and the Twins make an official announcement later this week, but it’s likely similar to the positions Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, and Michael Cuddyer were given last year. It’s also possible he could join FSN broadcasts in some fashion, as he made his broadcast debut on their pre-game show last July.
Thank you, Justin, and congratulations on your wonderful career.