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Twins notebook, 7/16

July 16, 2011

Gardenhire falls ill, leaves game early

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire left Saturday’s game early due to illness, leaving the managerial duties to bench coach Scott Ullger.Gardenhire mentioned before the game that he had been dealing with a viral infection in his esophagus, and that he had spent portions of Friday night’s game in the clubhouse.

Ullger expected the skipper to be back on Sunday after getting some rest.

Nathan replaces Capps as Twins’ closer

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Nathan is once again the Twins’ closer.

After watching Matt Capps blow his seventh save of the season Friday night, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson decided to make the change.

“To be back in this role is good,” Nathan said. “It’s where I want to be.”

Nathan converted on his first opportunity, tossing a scoreless ninth in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Royals for his first save since April 8.

Nathan opened the season as the closer, recording saves in each of his first three chances. But after blowing two saves in April against the Rays, the former All-Star relinquished the role.

Capps took over from there, recording 15 saves in 22 chances.

In each of his last four appearances at home, Capps has struggled, blowing two saves and being pulled from two other games before he could do so. While he was not necessarily surprised by the move, Capps admitted he was not happy with being demoted.

“Disappointed is a very good way to put it,” Capps said. “But it is what it is. That’s about all I’m going to say, I guess.”

Gardenhire said Capps would be used in the eighth inning as a setup man for Nathan.

If Nathan is unavailable to close a game, Gardenhire said lefty Glen Perkins could see some chances as well, but Nathan is the Twins’ No. 1 option.

“Perk is going to be a setup guy like Capps, and Nathan’s going to close,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t think we want to start messing with Nathan’s head by screwing around with him if it calls for a save. We just got done telling Nathan he’s in there … so that’s where we’ll go.”

Twins may adjust roster for twin bill

MINNEAPOLIS — With a doubleheader against the Indians on Monday in the middle of a stretch of 19 games in 18 days, the Twins could make a roster move to add an extra pitcher.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said it would depend on who they used in the next two games out of the bullpen, but a roster move was definitely not out of the question.

“We were talking about it, we might make an adjustment here,” Gardenhire said. “It’s a good possibility we might go with an extra pitcher for those two games.”

The biggest issue with making a move is that any position player sent down to make room for another pitcher would not be able to return to the big league club for 10 days.

And if the Twins play the doubleheader with only 12 position players, they would have just a three-man bench and there would be a good chance every one of them would get in one if not both games.

With that in mind, Gardenhire noted that utility man Luke Hughes was the team’s third catcher if needed.

“He’s catching bullpens and doing all those things,” Gardenhire said. “He’s caught before. We’re trying to work our way through it.”

Gardy wants Kubel, Span at full strength

MINNEAPOLIS — Manager Ron Gardenhire wants to see both Denard Span and Jason Kubel get plenty of swings at Triple-A Rochester before they return to the Twins.

Pointing to left fielder Delmon Young as evidence of what an extended rehab assignment can do for a hitter, Gardenhire said that he does not want them to come back unless they’ve shown they’re ready at the plate.

“We’ll go through a week of playing games, see how everything goes with both of them,” Gardenhire said. “Six to 10 games, I want to see them get at least 30 to 45 at-bats.

“If they’re not swinging good after six games and they’re both still scuffling along, we’ll add on. … I can’t afford to bring people up here and let them work their way back into shape here. We have to get ’em ready down there.”

Span is scheduled to play five innings in center field on Sunday for the Red Wings, his first game action since going on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion in early June. Kubel will play nine innings as the designated hitter.

Twins head trainer Rick McWane gave a brief update on the Twins’ injured players, and noted that time off during the All-Star break was a big help for Kubel and his sprained left foot.

“As soon as the break was over, he came back Wednesday and showed a huge improvement running around the outifeld,” McWane said.

Right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday, with no pitch count restrictions.

First baseman Justin Morneau continues to do well after having surgery on June 29 to relieve a pinched nerve in his neck, and will be reevaluated on Monday.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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