After eight months on the sidelines Justin Morneau is playing in a “B” game today

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Justin Morneau is starting at first base and batting cleanup in this morning’s “B” game between the Twins and Pirates, marking the first time he’s been in any lineup since suffering a concussion more than eight months ago.

Normally a former MVP seeing game action for the first time since last July would have been big news, but the Twins have cut way back on their Morneau updates recently and gave zero warning to the media members in attendance.

Reporters on site first got the idea that he might be playing when Morneau participated in pre-game warmups and didn’t find out for sure that he was actually in the lineup until the Twins took the field for a game not broadcast on television or radio (although Kelly Thesier of MLB.com did snap that photo of his first at-bat).

Whatever the case, this qualifies as excellent news for the Twins and Morneau, who’s repeatedly stressed the positive progress he’s made recently in recovering from the concussion. He’s reportedly still not fully clear of post-concussion symptoms and the day after big workouts have given him the most trouble in the past, but given how patient the Twins have been throughout his recovery the fact that a doctor cleared him to return dramatically shifts his chances of being in the Opening Day lineup after that possibility seemed somewhat unlikely as recently as a few days ago.

UPDATE: Morneau grounded out to second base in his first at-bat. In his second at-bat he came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a three-run double.

Autopsy report reveals morphine, Ambien in Roy Halladay’s system

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Traces of morphine, amphetamine, Prozac and Ambien were found in Roy Halladay’s system at the time of his death, according to the autopsy findings Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. The former Phillies and Blue Jays ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner was killed in a plane crash off the Gulf of Mexico last November. While the exact cause of the incident has not yet been determined, it was a combination of blunt force trauma and drowning that resulted in the 40-year-old’s death.

Further details from the NY Daily News revealed that Halladay sustained a fractured leg and a “subdural hemorrhage, multiple rib fractures, and lung, liver and spleen injuries” during the crash. As for the drugs present in his system, the autopsy report suggests that the presence of morphine could be linked to heroin use, though there’s no clear evidence that he did so.

The toxicology results also determined that Halladay had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.01. A BAC of 0.08 is the legal limit for operating a car, but current FAA regulations prohibit any alcohol consumption for eight hours before operating aircraft. Halladay was both the pilot and sole passenger aboard the plane when it crashed.

Previous statements from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that the investigation is still ongoing and could take up to two years to resolve.