MINNEAPOLIS -- For former Twins star Justin Morneau, Wednesday marked both the end of his playing career and the beginning of a new chapter as a special assistant to baseball operations for Minnesota.
Morneau, the 2006 American League MVP and a four-time All-Star, officially retired at a news conference at Target Field, but also announced details on his new role with the Twins. Morneau will help in several aspects, including dispensing hitting advice to both Minor League and Major League players, as well as working in player development, player acquisition and the MLB Draft.
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"You could look at it as a sad day because I'm done playing baseball and it's something I loved, but coming back to the Twins family and being able to sit in on hitters' meetings and Draft meetings and pass on the things I've learned is something I'm really excited to do," the 36-year-old said. "Something is ending, but something new is about to begin."
Morneau, who was joined at the podium by Twins president Dave St. Peter and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, also had his family in attendance as well as former teammates Joe Mauer and Corey Koskie. Morneau prepared notes for his retirement speech, but never looked at them during his uninterrupted 15-minute opener, thanking those who helped him along the way and expressing genuine excitement about his new role.
"For so many years, baseball was the center of my universe," Morneau said. "From the time I was 10 years old, all I remember doing in the summer was playing baseball, and I really didn't want to do anything else. When I was 5 or 6, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Sometimes you're fortunate to know your career path and achieve that dream. So I really want to say thank you."
Morneau, a New Westminster, British Columbia native, finished his career hitting .281/.348/.481 with 247 homers, 349 doubles and 985 RBIs in 1,545 games over 14 seasons with the Twins, Rockies, Pirates and White Sox. He won two Silver Sluggers, was the 2014 National League batting champ with the Rockies and memorably won the 2008 Home Run Derby over Josh Hamilton at Yankee Stadium.
"Justin Morneau is one of the most significant players in the history of our franchise," St. Peter said. "We're celebrating a glorious baseball career, but also a return for Justin, Krista and the family to be back into the Twins family."
In his new role, Morneau sat in during the club's annual organizational meetings two weeks ago to get a better feel and said the preliminary talks about joining the Twins started last June. He didn't play in 2017, but followed the Twins closely and said he's excited to work with young hitters, especially Max Kepler, who has a similar swing.
"I'll be doing a little bit of everything," Morneau said. "The first year will be a learning experience, and we can revisit what worked next winter."
Morneau, who has a similar title to fellow former Twins such as Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins, will also head to Spring Training for two different stints as an instructor.
"It's clear Justin wants to pay something back to this organization and the people in it," Falvey said. "He wants to be part of this family and make an impact going forward. And not just at this level, but at the Minor League level."