Morneau hopes for Gretzky (not Wayne) tweets

* 1B Justin Morneau wants some help from Canada getting to the all-star game and needs your vote to win the final vote as the National League's rep ... just as Steve Delabar won a year ago. ....  

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Andrew Hendriks: Crawford keep the Canuck string going


 By Bob Elliott

Justin Morneau wants to go home again.

Well, back to his second home.

The New Westminster, B.C. first baseman is one of five National Leaguers in the Final Man vote on social media for the all-star game. A member of the Twins organization from June 18, 1999 until Aug. 30 last year when he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates, if the Colorado Rockies slugger can win the fan vote he returns to Target Field in Minneapolis for next Tuesday’s 85th all-star game.

“The Twins were in Texas playing the Rangers when I was traded at the last possible moment (to be eligible for post-season play), so I never got a chance to thank the fans,” said Morneau, who spent 11 seasons and 1,278 games in the Twins Cities. He did buy full-page adds in both the Minneapolis and St. Paul papers to say goodbye and thanks.

“It would be a big thing to stand along the third base line, tip my cap and thank the Twins fans. I would mean a lot.”

A year ago Jays fans took to their cell phones, lap tops and computers to vote reliever Steve Delabar into the all-star game at Citi Field. Fans can vote for Morneau:

_ Check out your Canadian Baseball Network page -- you may have to hit the refresh button -- and look for one of the #VoteMorneau buttons with the proper link our whiz Peter Bean has installed.

_ At as many times as you want.

_ Promote his cause with the hash tag #VoteMorneau.

_ Or text N2 to the number 89269.

Deadline for voting is 4 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s been crazy the past few hours,” said Morneau Monday afternoon after he was named one of the final five. “I’ve had a lot of requests and they’ve got me spreading the word ... and I’m not much of a self promoter. This is really something I’m not comfortable with or familiar with.”

What to do when you are in unfamiliar waters?

Ask your pals for help as Morneau has done: Larry Walker, Corey Koskie and Russell Martin has been tweeting to help Morneau’s cause.

And the former goalie/hockey fanatic has turned to hockey puck pals.

Like? Knowing he was speaking to someone one-dimensional, Morneau provided the names, proper spelling and teams:

Former Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler (“he was just traded to Anaheim”), Willie Mitchell of the Florida Panthers (“just won the Cup with the Los Angeles Kings”), Columbus Blue Jackets’ James Wisniewski (“I met him back when he played for the Chicago Black Hawks”) and Dwayne Roloson (“no, he’s not playing anymore, he’s the goalie coach with Anaheim”).

“And I asked Wayne Gretzky and he said he didn’t tweet, but he said he’s ask his daughter (Paulina). He said she had some followers (299,000),” said Morneau. “I’m trying to get fans in Minnesota, Colorado and Canada behind me.”

And on the coast former NFL punter Mitch Berger, a Team 1040 broadcaster and TSN’s Farhan Lalji (“he’s coaching football at my old high school”) are spreading the word.

A year ago Delabar and the Jays encouraged their fans to vote for Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. And vice versa. Morneau is twined with Cleveland Indians right-hander Corey Kluber.

Morneau’s competition consists of Miami Marlins’ Casey McGehee, Washington Nationals’ Anthony Rendon, Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Atlanta’s  Justin Upton.

“Rizzo is figuring it out as a hitter,” says Morneau analyzing his competition, “Rondon has a large fan base and having a real good year. McGehee is having a great year. Same with Upton. They’re all having great years. There won’t be shame losing to any of these guys. Everyone deserves to be there.”

Morneau is looking to make his fifth all-star game appearance. It would be difficult to top 2008 at Yankee Stadium when Josh Hamilton dominated the Home Run Derby, but Morneau won it and the next night scored the winning run in the 15th. And Morneau’s 59 RBIs trail only Giancarlo Stanton’s 62 in the NL.

On May 20 the Rockies were in second place in the NL West six games above .500. When they opened their series against the San Diego Padres Monday they were 15 games under.

“We’ve struggled as a team, but personally it has been nice, it feels like I can produce again.”

What kind of tips did Walker, a former MVP with the Rockies, pass on to Morneau about hitting at Coors Field.

“Basically, keep it simple ... stupid,” said Morneau. “He’s one of those guys who thinks the simpler you keep it, the better.”

And as Walker would say “it’s real easy to vote ... click.”

The NL Final Man Name Team G HR RBI Avg. OPS Justin Morneau, Rockies 84 13 59 .316 .866 Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 85 17 45 .276 .871 Justin Upton, Braves 82 17 50 .273 .852 Anthony Rendon, Nationals 83 12 50 .282 .823 Casey McGehee, Marlins 87 1 53 .320 .783