August 31, 2011
For nearly any other athlete, the reaction to a diagnosis of "mild concussion symptoms" could range anywhere from concerning to relieving, depending on the circumstances. However, when the player diagnosed is Justin Morneau(notes), it's troubling, and a little scary.
The Star Tribune's Joe Christensen first reported the diagnosis on Twitter, adding that Morneau suffered through a headache and "fogginess" on Monday, which prompted the Twins to send him for base-line concussion tests.
Twins trainer Rick McWane later explained the testing Morneau was subjected to, and shed a little more light on the diagnosis, courtesy of MLB.com.
"The test is broken down into a series of mini tests, testing different areas, and one of his tests came back with what the doctor described 'mildly below baseline,'" McWane said. "For the most part, the rest of the test looked good. So if you have to put a diagnosis on it, you can say he has mild concussion symptoms."
Based on that diagnosis, Morneau will be sidelined for at least a couple of days. But given the delicate and unpredictable nature of post-concussion symptoms, his absence could extend well beyond that.
Of course, we all hope this turns out to be a minor setback for Morneau, who as recently as Sunday was telling people he was finally starting to feel completely normal and energized. And that's not just in reference to the previous concussion issues that sidelined him for the final three months of last season. That also covered the number of ailments that have stricken him this season.
Those include a sore wrist that left him in a cast for two weeks, and numbness in his left arm that required neck surgery June 24. He had only returned from that injury Aug. 10.
"This is the first time," Morneau said. "Especially since the surgery, I've felt completely normal going out and doing whatever I needed to do — extra defense, extra swings. Anything I needed to do.
"I haven't felt limited at all. My energy level felt like it has in the past. So this is the first time anything has given me a reminder, or whatever you want to call it."
Yikes. It's alarming to hear something so routine could trigger the symptoms.
"I'm going to dive for that ball every time. It's just one of those plays that's just a reaction. If you're out there thinking, 'I'm going to dive' and then you try to stop yourself, you probably shouldn't be playing this game."
Hopefully it never gets to that point for Morneau. But if it does, here's hoping Morneau heeds his own words and goes out on his own terms, rather than further risking one of the less pleasant alternatives.