Twins happy to see Blyleven honored
By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com
Blyleven, who had his No. 28 retired by the Twins eight days earlier at Target Field, has been in Cooperstown since Wednesday for various Hall of Fame activities. On Sunday, the day finally came for Blyleven — along with Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick — to be honored at the Hall of Fame.
“It should be really cool,” lefty reliever Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native, said prior to the ceremony. “I remember when [Kirby] Puckett went in and [Paul] Molitor went in. Those were guys that I watched go in, and I never really knew Kirby, but I’ve known Paul pretty well for a while.
“I know Bert as well as I know Paul, so it’s going to be cool to watch him give that speech and see him at the Hall of Fame there. I’m looking forward to watching it.”
The Twins showed Blyleven’s speech on the video board for fans attending Sunday’s game, while Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and the players planned to watch it on TV in the clubhouse.
“I wish that we could be there to enjoy it with him,” Michael Cuddyer said. “But it’s been a long time coming, and he deserves it as much as anybody does.”
Given Blyleven’s 16-year career as a Twins broadcaster and his knack for keeping things interesting on the air, his speech is expected to be a good one.
“I can’t wait to listen; it ought to be really entertaining, knowing all the stories that he has,” Gardenhire said Sunday morning. “There’s got to be something good in there. I’d like to listen to it in here; I’m interested in what he has to say. It’ll be fun stories, knowing Bert.”
Baker feeling fine after first start off DL
MINNEAPOLIS — While he had no issues throwing 82 pitches in five innings on Saturday night, the important thing for Twins right-hander Scott Baker was how he felt the next day.
Before Sunday’s series finale with the Tigers, Baker said he felt great.
“I kind of had an idea that I was going to feel OK, because once I was done, I just felt like I got a good workout,” Baker said. “As far as a hurting type of soreness, I don’t have anything like that. I haven’t played catch yet, but I feel like everything should be fine.”
In making his first start since July 5, Baker went in with a limit of 75-80 pitches. After finishing the fourth with 72 pitches, Baker went back out for the fifth and tossed 10 more before leaving the game, having allowed just three hits.
Baker said he expected to be able to increase his pitch count in his next outing.
“I’ll leave that up to them,” Baker said. “But I’d like at least get to the 100-pitch mark next time.”
Span plays back-to-back rehab games
MINNEAPOLIS — Center fielder Denard Span played seven innings for Triple-A Rochester in a rehab game on Sunday after also playing seven innings on Saturday.
Span went 0-for-4 on Sunday in the Red Wings’ 3-0 loss. Through six rehab games, after being on the shelf since early June with a concussion, Span has three hits in 20 at-bats with Rochester. All three hits were singles, and Span has also stolen a base.
“Everything seems to be going along just fine,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who watched Denard play on Saturday night. “He’s feeling good.”
While a return to the Twins seems likely to come soon for Span, it will not happen until he plays full games in center field on consecutive nights. Gardenhire has also talked recently about getting Span going at the plate before his return.
“He’s still playing seven innings,” Gardenhire said. “The talk is trying to get him to where [he’s] playing nine innings, probably four or five days in a row. Then we’ll see where we’re at. He’s getting close to being able to do that.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Gardy: No roster move until at least Thursday
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it would be until Thursday at the earliest before the club makes a roster move to get another position player back.
After bringing up an extra pitcher to help get through Monday’s doubleheader, the Twins will play through at least the next two games with a short bench offensively. Before their series opener with Detroit on Thursday, the Twins could call up an outfielder.
Which outfielder they call up will likely depend on if Jason Kubel is ready to return from the disabled list, where he has been since early June with a sprained left foot.
“I think Thursday would be the first day that [Rene] Tosoni would be eligible,” Gardenhire said. “If it looks like Kubes needs to stay a little longer, we could maybe change it out.”
If he were available now, Tosoni would likely have been recalled on Monday following the doubleheader. But after being optioned on July 10, he has to spend 10 days with Triple-A Rochester, making Tosoni eligible to return on Thursday.
Matt Tolbert, who was optioned to make room for the extra pitcher, will also not be eligible to return until after at least 10 days with the Red Wings.
While Kubel is the preferred option this week, Gardenhire said he would not rush either Kubel or Denard Span back from rehabbing in Rochester. Through two rehab games, Kubel is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts, and Span is 0-for-6 with a strikeout.
“I’d sure like to see [Kubel] swinging better than he is now,” Gardenhire said. “They don’t have return flights, I know that. So, we’ll do the best we can. We’ve got to get [Kubel and Span] swinging, though.”
Injured Twins at various stages of recovery
MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Scott Baker’s bullpen session is scheduled for Wednesday, and the Twins will decide on the next step for him based on how it goes.
Twins head trainer Rick McWane said Baker “felt great” throwing long toss on Tuesday.
“After he throws his bullpen, we’ll make a decision on if he needs to go on a rehab,” McWane said.
Right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled for another rehab start on Wednesday in Rochester, with no pitch limit.
Outfielders Jason Kubel and Denard Span continued to rehab at Triple-A as well, with both scheduled to start on Tuesday night. Kubel was set to DH for nine innings, while Span was expected to play seven innings in center field.
Through two rehab games entering Tuesday, Kubel was hitting 1-for-8 with a double and four strikeouts, while Span was 0-for-6 with a strikeout.
Twins put Baker on DL, promote Diamond
“He was really unsure whether he was going to be able to go in this start,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He thought he could pitch, but he didn’t know the ramifications after he pitched, how that would come into play, if he’d be really sore and end up having to miss starts after it.”
In place of Baker, Anthony Swarzak will start the first game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Indians. He was originally scheduled to pitch the nightcap of the twin bill.
Diamond, a lefty who is 4-8 with a 4.70 ERA for Triple-A Rochester this season, will make his Major League debut in Game 2 of the doubleheader.
A 2010 Rule 5 Draft selection by the Twins, Diamond will take the 40-man roster spot once occupied by Eric Hacker.
“We’ll give [Diamond] a chance to kind of regroup, sit around here, see what it’s all about, get a feel for a few more things,” Gardenhire said. “We’re facing the Cleveland Indians and he’s being thrown into a fire here, so we’ll see how he does. He’s a nice-looking young pitcher.”
Baker was scheduled to make his first start since July 5, when he exited the game after just five innings due to a right elbow strain.
Instead, he’ll be on the DL until at least Friday with the move retroactive to July 7.
“He wanted to pitch, but it just wasn’t going to work out,” Gardenhire said. “He was very unsure of how it was going to turn out. You can’t have uncertainty out there.”
Span will stay in center field upon return
MINNEAPOLIS — When he returns from the disabled list, Denard Span will be the Twins center fielder.
When asked if he had given any thought about how the outfield would look when Span returns from the DL after being sidelined for six weeks with a concussion, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he would not take away Span’s starting spot due to the injury.
“Denard’s our center fielder,” Gardenhire said.
“You’re talking about a personality here that feels he belongs in center field, too. You have to weigh a lot of things. He’s earned his right to play center field.”
With Span out, rookie Ben Revere has done an excellent job filling in, both at the plate and in the field.
Gardenhire indicated he would like to keep Revere in the lineup, but would not do so at Span’s expense.
“We’ll just let it play out, see what happens,” Gardenhire said. “If I have to make changes I would — but I’d talk to Denard about that [first] — to keep everybody’s bats in the lineup. We’ve already seen Revere can play right field, too.
“So, if I have to keep his bat in the lineup, which I would love to, it’s not going to be easy, but we’re just going to have to figure it out. Whatever makes us win, whatever makes us go. Right now Ben’s been making us go.”
Gardy, Nishioka let it ride for World Cup
MINNEAPOLIS — With their respective nations squaring off in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, manager Ron Gardenhire and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka made a friendly wager on the game.
There is no money riding on the game between the United States and Japan, but the loser of the bet will have to wear a T-shirt of the winner’s choice.
“It’s a very exciting day for both of us,” Gardenhire said. “Our women versus his women. Pretty neat.”
The Twins skipper said he already had a shirt in mind for Nishioka.
“I wish I could trash talk in Japanese right now, ’cause he’d hear it all,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to have to wear, ‘I love American women.’ I don’t know what he’s got for me.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Gardenhire falls ill, leaves game early
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.
Span set to start rehab after concussion
MINNEAPOLIS — After being sidelined for six weeks by a concussion, Twins center fielder Denard Span is scheduled to begin a rehab stint Sunday with Triple-A Rochester.
Span will fly to Rochester Saturday, and be in the Red Wings lineup in center field for Sunday’s game.
“I feel like I have my game face on already,” Span said. “I’m ready to get back to work. I’ve been — I wouldn’t say [on] a vacation because it hasn’t been fun — out for six weeks and it’s been tough. I’m just excited to get back to playing baseball.”
Span said he expected to play five innings Sunday and Monday, and eventually progress to seven innings a game before finally getting to full games in center field.
Now that he has been cleared by Major League Baseball to begin a rehab stint, Span is expected to spend about two weeks in Rochester before returning to the Twins.
Two weeks with the Red Wings could have Span rejoining the Twins during their next road trip out west.
“It’s going to have to be a gradual process with Denard,” Twins head trainer Rick McWane said. “We have to keep in contact with Major League Baseball as far as his progress, and they have to also give us their approval before we activate him.
“It’s still a process with him, but they gave him the OK to go ahead and start playing in games.”
Kubel to DH for Triple-A in rehab stint
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins outfielder Jason Kubel worked out by catching fly balls at Target Field on Friday and is scheduled to resume his rehab Sunday with Triple-A Rochester.
Kubel will join teammate Denard Span in flying out Saturday, and Kubel will be the Red Wings’ designated hitter Sunday.
“It’s been too long,” Kubel said. “I’m finally feeling good enough to do it.
“I know I can get through it now. So we’ll see how it feels at game speed.”
Kubel said his foot is better now than it was when he went down to Class-A Fort Myers to initially begin his rehab last month.
He initially hoped to play Saturday with the Red Wings, but due to the travel schedule, Kubel will not get there until just before game time. Kubel could play in the outfield for Rochester as soon as Monday, and he hopes to be back with the Twins before the end of their current 12-game, 11-day homestand.
“It depends on how he does,” Twins head trainer Rick McWane said. “It’s just going to be a matter of how he feels and how the coaches feel he’s swinging the bat, and we’ll go from there. I think he would like to be back here, but we’re just going to have to wait and see how everything goes.”
Baker, Morneau, Slowey on track for return
MINNEAPOLIS — Right-hander Scott Baker threw a bullpen session Friday with no issues, and is on track to start one of the Twins’ games in Monday’s doubleheader with the Indians.
Baker missed his last scheduled start Sunday before the All-Star break due to a right elbow strain, and was pushed back to Monday to give him more time. With his bullpen session going without any problems, Baker will make his first start in nearly two weeks on Monday.
First baseman Justin Morneau, who had neck surgery June 29 to relieve a pinched nerve, is “doing great” and will be reevaluated after the weekend, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said.
“We’re really happy with the progress he’s made and we’re going to keep that through the weekend,” McWane said. “Monday we’ll look and see where we are and maybe progress a bit.”
Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) was scheduled to pitch Friday night in another rehab start for Triple-A Rochester. He was expected to be limited to about 90 pitches.
Span waiting on clearance to take next step
MINNEAPOLIS — Denard Span is ready to begin a rehab assignment soon. But he has to be cleared first by Major League Baseball.
Span, who suffered a concussion on June 3 in Kansas City, said on Thursday that he may have “jumped the gun” a little on Wednesday in saying he was cleared for a rehab assignment. But his doctor did tell him Wednesday he was ready.
“Honestly, I just got out of the doctor [Wednesday], and listening to the doctor, he said, ‘Let’s do a rehab assignment. I think you’re OK with a rehab assignment,'” Span said. “I probably should have waited until I checked with the trainers and everybody else.”
After joining the Twins in Chicago and participating in pre-game workouts, Span saw the doctor in Pittsburgh, who said Span should be OK to begin a rehab assignment.
Span and the Twins are now just waiting to hear back from the league office regarding his clearance, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said.
“It’s probably going to take him a couple days just to get back on the field and start taking batting practice and running around,” McWane said. “Hopefully, in that timeframe, we can get approval and then he’ll be ready to go about the same time we get approval. But I can’t give you a timeframe. I don’t know how long MLB’s going to take for this.”
Span was hesitant to say he felt 100 percent, but said he felt like he was ready.
After suffering the concussion on June 3, Span played three days later, but has not been back since going on the seven-day disabled list on June 9.
Now that he’s feeling better, all that time off has made Span anxious to get back on the field.
“I feel good enough to go out there and try to see if I can play,” Span said. “I want to go out there and play. If I didn’t feel like I was able to push myself, I wouldn’t go.”
MINNEAPOLIS — If everything goes well over the next two days, Jason Kubel hopes to get to Rochester on Saturday for a week of rehab with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate.
“I’m going to shag some balls first, see how that feels,” Kubel said. “That’s kind of what got me last time.”
Even if he doesn’t get started by Saturday, Kubel said he expected to join the Red Wings sometime in the next week.
Twins head trainer Rick McWane said Kubel got out on the field Wednesday, ran around and “felt great, a lot better than last week.”
Kubel has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 2 with a sprained left foot, and a setback two weeks ago has extended the length of his rehab.
When the injury originally occurred, Kubel did not expect to even go on the DL.
Part of the problem, Kubel said, is that the original injury to the Lisfranc (upper) part of his left foot resulted in him overcompensating and aggravating the plantar fascia area on the bottom of his foot.
“It was both,” Kubel said of when he reinjured his foot. “But the days after that, about five or six days after that, the bottom was about as worse as it’s been in a while.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Last time he was with the Twins, defensive issues at shortstop played a part in Trevor Plouffe getting sent back to Triple-A Rochester.
Plouffe rejoined the big league club on Thursday, and now that he’s back, Plouffe is going to see time at a number of different positions, with shortstop no longer being his No. 1 option.
“He’s definitely going to play some first base up here, there’s no doubt. He’s going to mix it up,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Definitely there, third, outfield, he’s been playing them all. Short, second, just about anywhere you can run him out there and see what happens if you need him.”
In his most recent Minor League stint, Plouffe played several games in the outfield and, at Gardenhire’s request, was then moved to first base. Plouffe was originally in the lineup at first base Thursday, but with Jim Thome being a late scratch, he was moved to designated hitter.
Plouffe was hitting .313 with 15 home runs and 33 RBIs when the Twins recalled him.
“He’s got his confidence back, and that’s a big part of baseball,” Gardenhire said.
In a brief session with reporters — which was interrupted by Gardenhire to get Plouffe back to finish up his work at first base — Plouffe said the position changes have helped him focus.
“At first, I thought it might take away from it, but when I started moving around I started having a little bit of fun,” Plouffe said. “It’s kind of like I rediscovered baseball, if you will. It was exciting, I didn’t know where I was going to play.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Morneau has been cleared to begin non-baseball activities, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said before Thursday’s game against the Royals.
Morneau underwent neck surgery on June 29 to repair a pinched nerve, and is expected to be out until at least mid-August.
“He’s been working out, doing some cardio,” McWane said. “He can do pretty much what he wants to in the weight room and off the field. But he’s not going to throw and swing for about another week or so.”
McWane also gave updates on several other injured Twins.
Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start on Friday for Triple-A Rochester. McWane said he expected Slowey to be limited to about 90 pitches.
Scott Baker, who skipped his last start due to a right elbow strain, is scheduled for a bullpen session on Friday afternoon.
“His elbow feels a lot better,” McWane said. “We anticipate him making a start on Monday.”
Thome has been battling a sprained toe on his left foot, and was a late scratch on Thursday afternoon.
McWane said Thome felt better, but wanted to run around and test it out before returning to the lineup. Thome was available to pinch-hit against the Royals.
Thome belts home run No. 594
MINNEAPOLIS — With the two injuries that have forced him to miss nearly 40 games this season, Jim Thome hasn’t even had time to think about reaching 600 home runs.
Even if his focus is just on staying healthy and contributing, the Twins slugger moved one step closer to that milestone on Friday, as Thome hit career homer No. 594, a three-run shot that just got over the fence in left field in a 6-2 win over the Brewers.
After missing so much time, Thome said it felt good to put one in the seats.
“It does, especially being on the DL and being in Florida trying to get back, and still trying to kind of get a feel here and get back going,” Thome said. “Anytime you can do something, especially the way the guys have been playing, and contribute and help out, is good, no doubt.”
Thome hit an 0-1 curveball from Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, giving the Twins a 3-1 lead. After missing 20 games with a left quad strain, Thome homered in his fifth game back from the disabled list.
Thome last homered on May 23 against the Mariners, when he hit two balls out of the park in his first game back from a DL stint for an oblique strain.
It was Thome’s fifth home run of the season, putting him six away from being the eighth player in Major League history to hit 600. Thome would be the first to reach the mark since the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez last season.
“Everyone gets excited when Jim Thome comes up, and he crushed that ball in the seats and that’s a big huge boost for us after we got down quick in the ballgame,” said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. “That’s kind of what we are hoping for as we go along here. If we can keep those guys healthy, some of those things can happen.”
Young takes batting practice at Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since spraining his right ankle, Twins left fielder Delmon Young took batting practice on Friday at Target Field. If everything continues to go well this weekend, Young will begin a Triple-A rehab assignment next week.
Young, who left during the fifth inning at Miller Park last Saturday after being injured, took part in both early BP and the Twins’ regular pregame batting practice session, and he also ran the bases.
“He’s feeling great,” Twins head trainer Rick McWane said. “He’s going to do the same thing tomorrow, and the plan is for him to travel to Rochester on Sunday and start a rehab assignment with Rochester next week.”
McWane also gave updates on right-hander Kevin Slowey, currently on the disabled list with an abdominal injury. The 27-year-old threw 3 1/3 innings on Thursday night for the Fort Myers Miracle.
Slowey also will travel to Rochester on Sunday. He is scheduled to start Tuesday for the Red Wings, McWane said.
Twins center fielder Denard Span also continues to make progress in his recovery from a concussion sustained on June 3 in Kansas City.
“Denard came out early, did some long toss, did some running [and] had a good workout,” McWane said. “We still hope to get him on the field taking batting practice at some point, although we don’t have a date right now.”
Humphries, Kardashian take in the opener
MINNEAPOLIS — After waiting out a two-hour rain delay, former Minnesota Gophers forward Kris Humphries threw out the first pitch on Friday at Target Field.
Humphries, an all-Big Ten honoree and 2004 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was named Minnesota Mr. Basketball as a senior at Hopkins High School in 2003. He spent the last two seasons with the New Jersey Nets, and previously played for the Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz.
Joining Humphries to watch the Twins take on the Brewers was his fiance, reality TV personality Kim Kardashian. The two were visited in their suite during the rain delay by a pair of Twins, closer Matt Capps and catcher Drew Butera.
Before the game, Kardashian tweeted: “Hi Minnesoooota! Heading to the twins game tonight! This should be fun!”