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.
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.
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 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.
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins first baseman Justin Morneau had the cast removed from his wrist on Friday, and will begin to work on rehabbing it soon.
“He said it felt pretty good,” Twins head trainer Rick McWane said. “He’s going to start some gripping exercises, some range of motion, and start getting the strength back in his forearm.”
Morneau had his left wrist immobilized for 10 days in June, with the hope that it would help heal both his sprained left wrist and the pinched nerve in his neck. Once he decided to have neck surgery this week, the cast was put back on his wrist to give it more time to heal.
McWane also gave updates on the Twins’ other injured players before Saturday’s game.
Right-hander Kevin Slowey (strained oblique) and left fielder Delmon Young (right ankle sprain) will travel on Sunday to Triple-A Rochester. Slowey is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday for the Red Wings and throw 60 pitches. Young will begin a rehab assignment next week.
Outfielder Jason Kubel (left foot sprain), who is on a rehab assignment with Fort Myers, made progress on Saturday, as he felt better running and took batting practice.
“He still has difficulty making cuts,” McWane said. “He’s not scheduled to play in a game, and we will re-evaluate daily.”
Mauer to start working out at first base
MILWAUKEE — Had they been playing by American League rules, Joe Mauer likely would have been in the Twins lineup on Sunday as the designated hitter.
With DH not an option in the Twins’ final Interleague road game of the season, Mauer was out of the lineup for the day game after Saturday’s night game. And that’s part of the reason why Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would like Mauer to get comfortable at first base.
“Yeah, definitely, if he could play first base, he probably would be playing first base today,” Gardenhire said. “Or third base, or somewhere. That’s why I want to explore all the options we have to keep his bat in the lineup as much as we possibly can, especially when all these people are hurting.”
When the Twins return home after their series with the Brewers, Mauer will put in some work at first base to get comfortable with the new position.
Gardenhire said Mauer is still working his way back behind the plate, but should have more time to get acclimated to first base when the Twins are back home. He also said he’d like to have Mauer work with special assistant to the GM — and former Twins manager — Tom Kelly at first base, but has no plans for that as of yet.
“I’d love to, but I don’t think Joe’s ready for that one,” Gardenhire said. “TK’s as good … as I’ve ever been around, as far as teaching people at first base — absolutely.”
Gardenhire prefers a week’s rehab for Kubel
MILWAUKEE — Twins outfielder Jason Kubel (left foot sprain) is getting close to a rehab stint, and his manager would like it to include as many as seven games.
Ron Gardenhire said Kubel could play as few as four Minor League rehab games, but he’d prefer to see Kubel get about 28 to 30 at-bats over a week of games at either Class A Fort Myers or Triple-A Rochester.
“I’ve seen guys come back with 15 or 20 at-bats, and I just think — you’ve been out a month, 30 at-bats is probably a pretty good thing,” Gardenhire said. “I know we originally talked about four days, but when we get home, I’m going to maybe talk about a little bit more.”
Kubel ran the bases with no issue on Saturday, and was scheduled to do the same on Sunday.
Twins head trainer Rick McWane also gave updates on Denard Span (concussion), Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) and Delmon Young (right ankle sprain).
McWane said Span was scheduled to work out on Sunday at Target Field and is still slated to be evaluated when the team returns home.
Slowey threw 35 pitches in two innings with no problems on Saturday night, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts for the Fort Myers Miracle. His next outing is scheduled for Wednesday.
“He is going to pitch on the 29th, three to four innings, 50 pitches,” McWane said. “We haven’t decided where he’s going to pitch.”
Young, who left Saturday’s game after injuring his ankle in the fifth inning, will have an MRI on Monday after the Twins return home.
MILWAUKEE — When he learned that he had been recalled and added to the Twins’ 25-man roster on Saturday, Rene Tosoni had to scramble to get his laundry done. He had only been home four hours, and had plenty to clean before catching a flight at 6 a.m. on Sunday.
Of course, he didn’t mind, since it meant Tosoni would be back with the big league club again just one day after being optioned. Tosoni flew from Milwaukee to Rochester and back, logging just over 1,200 miles in less than 24 hours.
“When I got called up, I was in Columbus, and I’ve been living in hotels since,” Tosoni said. “Traveling kind of sucks, but it’s all right. I’m happy to be here.”
Tosoni didn’t even see anyone with the Red Wings, who were in Syracuse on Saturday before returning home Sunday.
After not getting much sleep Saturday night, Tosoni spent about five hours traveling Sunday morning, leaving Rochester, N.Y., at 6:10 a.m. ET and arriving in Milwaukee at 10:07 a.m. CT.
Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “That trip going down is never as fun as the one coming back.”
MILWAUKEE — The Twins announced on Sunday that they have signed right-hander Matt Summers, their fourth-round pick out of UC-Irvine.
Summers, the 18th Draft pick signed by the Twins from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is the second-highest pick signed behind second-rounder Madison Boer, also a right-hander.
Previously drafted by the Yankees, Summers was the Big West Pitcher of the Year in 2011. He was 11-2 with a 1.72 ERA, striking out 96 batters in 109 2/3 innings in 16 starts. He tossed the fourth no-hitter in school history against Long Beach State.
Gardenhire holds team meeting to clear air
By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com
“Every player’s got to be accountable, and Mija knows that,” Gardenhire said. “If you have the ball in your hand as a pitcher, and a catcher’s calling something you don’t want to throw, the one rule of this game is that you don’t have to throw it, because you have the ball.”
Gardenhire met with Mijares and Mauer before Saturday’s game, and the Twins also had a team meeting three hours before the first pitch to “clear the air.”
While the lefty reliever did not say anything his manager had not already said Friday night, Gardenhire noted that there was a difference between the manager questioning the pitch selection and the pitcher doing the same.”I can say those things, and I would’ve liked to see a breaking ball, but a pitcher can’t,” Gardenhire said. “If he doesn’t want to throw something, don’t throw it. That’s totally on your own shoulders and that’s being accountable.”
Regardless of who was at fault in the at-bat, Gardenhire made it clear that he did not want the issue to linger within the Twins’ clubhouse.
For that reason, he called the quick pregame meeting.
Though he also would have preferred to see a slider in that situation, Gardenhire said that if Mijares had better executed the pitch and put it where Mauer wanted it, the whole situation may have been avoided.
“I think Joe said it best,” Gardenhire said. “Yes he did call for a fastball, but he did not call a fastball down the middle.”
Gardenhire talks out struggles with Nishioka
MILWAUKEE — Not wanting his shortstop to get frustrated over his struggles at the plate, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire called Tsuyoshi Nishioka into his office after Friday night’s 4-3 loss to talk.
“He needs to keep swinging and get more at-bats,” Gardenhire said. “He’ll get better as we go along. I just don’t want him to get too frustrated, bottle it all up, and start worrying about things that he doesn’t need to worry about.”
Nishioka has batted just .160 with two doubles and two RBIs in eight games since returning from the disabled list.
He’s also struck out eight times in 25 at-bats over that stretch, after missing 60 games due to a fractured left fibula.
“He’s back here, he’s been hurt a long time, and I want him to get out there and relax, get some swings in, and I told him that last night,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t want him to get too emotionally caught up, worrying about not doing his job.”
Valencia, Braun recall time at Miami
MILWAUKEE — As teammates at the University of Miami, Danny Valencia and Ryan Braun once each hit three-run home runs in the same game.
On Friday night, it was Valencia who put a three-run homer into the seats at Miller Park, giving the Twins a 3-2 lead at the time. Braun said that he wasn’t too thrilled about watching Valencia’s home-run ball go over the left-field fence.
“That’s never fun, you never want to see guys have success against us, but against everybody else I definitely root for him,” Braun said. “I obviously wish him the best, and not just him, but everybody else that we played with as well. It’s pretty cool to see quite a few guys in the Major Leagues and having a lot of success.”
In 2005, Valencia and Braun manned the corner infield spots for the Miami Hurricanes during their sophomore and junior seasons, respectively. They were part of a Miami team that also featured Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay and Indians closer Chris Perez.
During that season, Valencia and Braun combined for 153 hits, 24 home runs and 139 RBIs for Miami, which lost in the Super Regional round to a Nebraska team that featured Alex Gordon at third base and Brian Duensing out of the bullpen.
The two still remain in touch with each other and many other Miami teammates.
“Yeah, of course, man,” Braun said. “I follow everybody, keep in touch with everybody. He’s doing well, I’m happy for him and it’s good to see. Especially because obviously he wasn’t a high Draft pick, so the fact that he’s made it is that much more impressive. And he’s gotten an opportunity, really taken advantage of it, and done really well.”
During batting practice on Friday before the series kicked off, the two took a few minutes to catch up.
They only spent the one season together before Braun was drafted fifth overall by the Brewers, but Valencia said he enjoyed playing with Braun and all the talented players on that Miami team.
“I looked up to him because he was just a really, really talented player,” Valencia said. “He was a good guy, he’s hilarious and he’s fun to be around. He keeps everything loose, makes you feel comfortable.”
Slowey tosses two frames in Class A
MILWAUKEE — Twins head trainer Rick McWane gave quick updates on Saturday on right-hander Kevin Slowey and outfielders Denard Span and Jason Kubel.
Slowey threw two innings on Saturday night in Class A Advanced, allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts.
Kubel ran the bases on Saturday and will do the same on Sunday before joining the Twins for a full workout on Monday at Target Field.
Span had another good day on Saturday and will be reevaluated when the Twins return home.