- Associated Press - Sunday, September 18, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s Justin Morneau won’t play again this season because of concussion symptoms and a cyst that needs to be surgically removed.

The first baseman will have the cyst removed from his left knee this week, the Twins announced Sunday.

The decision to shut down Morneau with 12 games remaining in the regular season means the 30-year-old slugger and former American League MVP will have played in only 69 games. Morneau, who missed two months of the season because of neck surgery, hit .227 with four homers and 30 RBIs. All are career lows.

“Our plan is to take care of the orthopedic problems that he has and hopefully get him healthy as soon as possible,” said Rick McWane, Minnesota’s head athletic trainer.

Morneau, along with other players suffering from the flu, was not at Target Field on Sunday.

This is the second consecutive season in which Morneau missed much of the season. Morneau was limited to 81 games in 2010 after suffering a concussion shortly before the All-Star Break.

On Friday, Minnesota announced Joe Mauer will miss two weeks _ likely the rest of the season _ after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

If Mauer doesn’t play again this season, the Minnesota duo will combine to play only 151 games this season. With those two _ who are making a combined $37 million this season _ missing much of the season, the Twins have gone from AL Central champions to owning the worst record in the American League.

“Hopefully we’ll have a healthy year next year and we get it all out of our system,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We left spring training the healthiest team in baseball, we had no one on the DL, the whole package. The season started and we got all beat up.”

Because Morneau won’t play during September, Gardenhire acknowledged his status for 2012 will be unknown through spring training.

Gardenhire realizes a lingering question will be whether Morneau can remain Minnesota’s everyday first baseman.

“Is Morneau going to be healthy enough to play there? Is he going to be a DH?” Gardenhire said. “Those are things that I have to talk to Justin about and see what’s best for him to keep him on the field. There’s a lot up in the air this winter.”

Gardenhire is glad Morneau will have surgery soon, allowing ample time to recover. He hopes other Twins will follow that lead. Mauer didn’t have knee surgery until December and was not 100 percent when he arrived at spring training. Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young also were limited in the spring.

“That will be the message,” Gardenhire said. “If you have something, tell them now. Get it done now.”

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