Morneau leaves game with stiff back

Morneau leaves game with stiff back

DETROIT -- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau left Tuesday night's 2-0 victory over the Tigers in the sixth inning due to stiffness in his back. It was a move that the Twins called "precautionary."

Morneau had gone 0-for-3, striking out three times in the contest against Tigers starter Justin Verlander. That included a swinging strikeout for the final out of the fifth, as the Twins stranded Denard Span at third base following his leadoff triple. He was back out at first base for the bottom of the fifth before leaving the contest with the injury.

While Morneau missed the final three weeks of the 2009 season due to a stress fracture in the L5 vetebra in his lower back, he said that this latest injury is no cause for concern. This stiffness is in muscular part of his upper part of his back -- near the rib cage, he said -- and he felt it grab when he swung through a first pitch changeup from Verlander in his final at-bat.

After Morneau left the game, Michael Cuddyer moved from right field to first base while Jason Kubel moved from right field to left field, and Delmon Young entered the game in left field.

Temperatures dropped into the 40s during Tuesday night's game. And with the cold, the Twins felt it was not a good time to push anything with Morneau's back feeling stiff.

"A cold night and Verlander was making him swing and miss an awful lot," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We just got him out of the game. I don't want to mess around with something like that. We'll just go day to day. It's not an issue, nothing like what he had last year. It has nothing to do with that."

Morneau is listed as day-to-day and the first baseman said he'll have to see how he feels when he wakes up on Wednesday morning before figuring out if he'll miss any time with the injury.

"We'll see how I feel when I get up in the morning and kind of go from there," Morneau said. "I can't see it being more than a couple days."

Morneau dealt with a similar tweak of a muscle near his rib cage during Spring Training this year. The Twins were extra cautious with the injury since it was just spring, but Morneau missed four days. He said this latest injury is close to the same area as the first tweak but not in the same exact spot.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.