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New free agent Justin Morneau open to a return to Twins

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Former Twins slugger Justin Morneau was back at Target Field Thursday to support his longtime teammate Torii Hunter, who held his retirement news conference.

The Star Tribune notes that Morneau was already back in town for his 3-month-old daughter's baptism, so when he found out about Hunter's announcement, he decided to attend.

Hunter's retirement leaves the Twins with a leadership void for next season. Is it one that could be filled by another former Twin?

Former sports icons have a history of returning to 'The Land of 10,000 Lakes.'

  • Fran Tarkenton, Vikings – 1961-66, 1972-78
  • Randy Moss, Vikings – 1998-2004, 2010
  • Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves – 1995-2007,
  • Torii Hunter, Twins – 1997-2007, 2015

Could Morneau be next?

"Well, I'm a free agent," Morneau told reporters Thursday. "I'm open to pretty much anything at this point."

As fate would have it, the Colorado Rockies recently bought out Morneau's option for 2016 allowing the 2014 National League batting champion to go free.

After winning the batting title with the Rockies in 2014, Morneau, 34, missed much of last season dealing with the effects of a concussion and neck injury that limited him to 49 games.

He did get back to post some pretty strong numbers in September, hitting .338 with a combined on-base/slugging percentage of .894.

"The knowledge that I've gained along the way, the lessons learned, if you can [use them to] help the guys around you, that's the way the game works," Morneau told reporters. "It's a role that's actually a lot more fun than I ever thought it'd be. I love to talk hitting. Being around the young guys, being in that role has been a lot of fun for me."

There appears to be no shortage of options for Morneau. The Pioneer Press notes that both Toronto and Oakland are believed to have interest, and the Twins may not be the best on-field fit.

With Joe Mauer entrenched at first base and Trevor Plouffe and Miguel Sano stacked up at third base and DH, figuring out Morneau's role in a potential Twins lineup might be tough. But that doesn't mean there wouldn't be interest for both Morneau and the team.

"I think he'd be ready to come back," Twins manager Paul Molitor told the Pioneer Press. "Unfortunately, that's not a role we need to fill."

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