June 2011

Mauer at DH, Thome sits (Game 78 vs Dodgers)

MINNEAPOLIS — With Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly on the mound tonight, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to sit designated hitter Jim Thome to allow Joe Mauer a chance to get some rest by serving as DH.

Mauer, though, will return to catching duty tomorrow afternoon, and Thome will back at DH, as rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa will be on the mound for the Dodgers.

“He’ll catch tomorrow,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Just do it tonight so that Thome could get an opportunity to DH tomorrow also. Thome wasn’t going to play today, so Mauer can play tonight and Thome can DH tomorrow while Mauer catches. So this gives us a break one way or another.”

Lineups for tonight’s 7:10 CT start at Target Field:

Dodgers (36-44)

1. Tony Gwynn, Jr., LF
2. Casey Blake, 1B
3. Andre Ethier, RF
4. Matt Kemp, CF
5. Juan Uribe, 3B
6. Marcus Thames, DH
7. Aaron Miles, 2B
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Jamey Carroll, SS

LHP Ted Lilly (5-7, 4.63 ERA, 4.35 FIP, 3.78 K/BB)

Twins (32-45)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Danny Valencia, 3B
6. Luke Hughes, 1B
7. Jason Repko, LF
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

LHP Brian Duensing (4-7, 4.54 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 2.15 K/BB)

Mauer takes grounders at 1B (Game 77 vs Dodgers)

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer fielded ground balls before today’s game against the Dodgers, but is starting at catcher and batting third with Luke Hughes getting the start at first.

Mauer, who hasn’t played first base since playing one game there in 2003 with Class A Fort Myers, is trying to learn the position to help out with spot duty, as the Twins will be without Justin Morneau until at least mid-August because he’s having neck surgery on Wednesday.

“I know I can do it,” said Mauer, who played 13 games at first in ’02 with Class A Quad Cities. “It’s just obviously this is the big league level. It’s just not an overnight thing. You can’t just say you have a good idea of how to play first and just go out there. But I’m going to do everything I can to try to get ready as quick as I can.”

Mauer added he’d play “first or third or left or pitch” to help the team, and said that although he wants to be the club’s primary catcher, he thinks mixing in some first base could be a good thing for the team and even his career.

“I think so,” Mauer said. “I’ve never been opposed to it. I think that’s where people get mixed up. They think I’m just stubborn and want to catch, and that’s it. But that’s not the case.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer “looked tall” at first base, but added he was happy to see him taking grounders there before the game. But he offered no hints on when Mauer would get his first start at first base.

“I have no timetable,” Gardenhire said. “This isn’t about a timetable. It’s about him taking ground balls and getting the glove and just taking some throws. And once we get to a point where we’re comfortable with him, then we’ll do it. But I don’t think it’ll take long.”

Lineups for tonight’s 7:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Dodgers (35-44)

1. Tony Gwynn, Jr,, LF
2. Casey Blake, 3B
3. Andre Eithier, DH
4. Matt Kemp, CF
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Juan Urbie, 2B
7. Trent Oeltjen, RF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Dee Gordon, SS

RHP Chad Billingsley (6-6, 4.48 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 2.15 K/BB)

Twins (32-44)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Rene Tosoni, LF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Nishi, SS

RHP Nick Blackburn (6-5, 3.15 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.89 K/BB)

Roster moves coming (Game 73 vs. Giants)

SAN FRANCISCO — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed right-hander Joe Nathan and designated hitter Jim Thome will be activated in time for Friday’s game in Milwaukee, and the club will make two moves to make for them on the 25-man roster after today’s game against the Giants.

Gardenhire said the club will option both a reliever and a catcher to make room for Nathan and Thome on the roster, as the club is currently carrying two backup catchers — Rene Rivera and Drew Butera — behind Joe Mauer. He said the decision between Rivera and Butera was a tough one, but offered no hints on which catcher will be headed to Triple-A Rochester other than the fact that Rivera was in the starting lineup on Thursday.

My best guess is that the club decides to keep Rivera on the roster, while optioning right-hander Jim Hoey to Rochester. But we’ll see.

Here are the lineups for today’s 2:45 p.m. CT start at AT&T Park:

Twins (32-40)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Delmon Young, LF
5. Danny Valencia, 3B
6. Luke Hughes, 1B
7. Rene Rivera, C
8. Matt Tolbert, SS
9. Brian Duensing, LHP (4-6, 4.82 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 2.12 K/BB)

Giants (40-34)

1. Aaron Rowand, CF
2. Bill Hall, 2B
3. Aubrey Huff, 1B
4. Cody Ross, RF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Pat Burrell, LF
7. Miguel Tejada, SS
8. Chris Stewart, C
9. Tim Lincecum, RHP (5-6, 3.39 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 2.81 K/BB)

Thome, Nathan to return Friday (Game 72 vs. Giants)

SAN FRANCISCO — Twins trainer Rick McWane said today that both designated hitter Jim Thome and closer Joe Nathan will rejoin the club on Friday in Milwaukee.

Thome had five at-bats in a simulated game and won’t need to play in a Minor League before returning to action. He’ll serve as a pinch-hitter against the Brewers before returning to his regular role as DH when the Twins return to Target Field on Monday to host the Dodgers.

Nathan, meanwhile, tossed a scoreless inning with Triple-A Rochester last night, and is scheduled to throw another inning in relief tonight before being activated from the disabled list on Friday.

I’ll have more info on the return of both players in today’s Twins Notebook.

But here are the lineups for both clubs for tonight’s 9:15 p.m. CT start at AT&T Park:

Twins (32-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
9. Nick Blackburn, RHP (6-4, 3.16 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 1.96 K/BB)

Giants (39-34)

1. Aaron Rowand, CF
2. Emmanuel Burriss, 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
4. Aubrey Huff, 1B
5. Cody Ross, LF
6. Nate Schierholtz, RF
7. Brandon Crawford, SS
8. Eli Whiteside, C
9. Ryan Vogelsong, RHP (4-1, 1.92 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 3.00 K/BB)

Valencia back in the lineup (Game 71 vs. Giants)

SAN FRANCISCO — Third baseman Danny Valencia, who missed Sunday’s game against the Padres with soreness in his throwing arm stemming form a throw on Saturday, makes his return to action tonight against the Giants.

Joe Mauer is also back behind the plate after serving as designated hitter in Sunday’s game.

Also make sure to tune into SportsCenter on ESPNews at 8:40 p.m. CT, as I’ll be be calling in to talk about the Twins.

Lineups for 9:15 p.m. CT start at AT&T Park:

Twins (31-39)
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Luke Hughes, 1B
8. Nishi, SS
9. Carl Pavano, RHP (4-5, 4.20 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 1.81 K/BB)

Giants (39-33)
1. Andres Torres, CF
2. Miguel Tejada, SS
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
4. Aubrey Huff, 1B
5. Cody Ross, LF
6. Nate Schierholtz, RF
7. Bill Hall, 2B
8. Eli Whiteside, C
9. Madison Bumgarner, LHP (3-8, 3.21 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 2.71 K/BB)

 

Valencia out of action (Game 70 vs Padres)

MINNEAPOLIS — Danny Valencia is out of the lineup today against the Padres with soreness in his right arm stemming from a throw in the eighth inning of yesterday’s 1-0 win.

Valencia originally felt the soreness in his right biceps, but it moved to his triceps on Sunday. He said he remains hopeful he’ll return to action on Tuesday in San Francisco after Monday’s off-day.

“Actually it feels a lot better than I thought it would feel,” Valencia said. “It’s more in my triceps than my biceps right now. So it’s really day to day.”

Joe Mauer is in the lineup, but not at catcher, as he’s serving as the designated hitter and batting third. Matt Tolbert is starting at third base in Valencia’s absence, and Rene Rivera, who has worked well with Francisco Liriano recently, is behind the plate.

Padres (30-42)

1. Chris Denorfia, LF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Chase Headley, 3B
4. Ryan Ludwick, DH
5. Jesus Guzman, 1B
6. Cameron Maybin, CF
7. Orlando Hudson, 2B
8. Will Venable, RF
9. Ron Johnson, C

RHP Dustin Moseley (2-6, 3.16 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.76 K/BB)

Twins (30-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Luke Hughes, 1B
7. Nishi, SS
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Matt Tolbert, 3B

LHP Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.67 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.43 K/BB)

DH batting eighth, first baseman batting ninth? (Game 69 vs Padres)

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s not every day you see the designated hitter batting eighth and the first baseman batting ninth.

But that’s exactly what the Twins are doing against the Padres tonight, as Rene Tosoni is the DH and is batting eighth, and Luke Hughes is at first and batting ninth.

Catcher Joe Mauer and shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka remain in the same order as last night, with Mauer batting third and Nishioka hitting seventh.

Padres (30-41)

1. Chris Denorfia, RF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Chase Headley, 3B
4. Ryan Ludwick, LF
5. Brad Hawpe, DH
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Nick Hundley, C
8. Will Venable, CF
9. Alberto Gonzalez, 2B

RHP Tim Stauffer (2-4, 3.28 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 2.96 K/BB)

Twins (29-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
8. Rene Tosoni, DH
9. Luke Hughes, 1B

RHP Scott Baker (4-4, 3.55 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 3.39 K/BB)

The return of Joe Mauer (Game 68 vs Padres)

MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer is back in the lineup for the first time since April 12, and is batting third against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard.

Mauer, who missed 57 games with bilateral leg weakness, faced the left-hander five times back in 2008 when Richard was with the White Sox, going 2-for-5 with an RBI.

With Mauer returning to action, shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka slid down to seventh in the batting order after batting third on Thursday and going 1-for-4 with an infield single.

Friday night’s game also marks the first of 15 straight Interleague games for the Twins, who also play the Giants, Brewers and Dodgers in Interleague action.

Padres (30-40)

1. Chris Denorfia, RF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Chase Headley, 3B
4. Ryan Ludwick, DH
5. Cameron Maybin, CF
6. Jesus Guzman, LF
7. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
8. Nick Hundley, C
9. Alberto Gonzalez, 2B

LHP Clayton Richard (2-8, 4.06 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.40 K/BB)

Twins (28-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
8. Luke Hughes, DH
9. Jason Repko, RF

LHP Brian Duensing (3-6, 4.98 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2.00 K/BB)

Nishioka activated from the DL (Game 66 vs White Sox)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins activated infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka from the 60-day disabled list before today’s game against the White Sox, but he was held out of the starting lineup with the plan to start him at shortstop tomorrow.

Nishioka missed 59 games with a fractured left fibula suffered on April 7 when Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher slid into him at second base while trying to break up a double play. He replaced first baseman Justin Morneau on the 25-man roster after he was placed on the 15-day DL with a left wrist strain on Tuesday. Left-hander Dusty Hughes was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester roster to make room for Nishioka on the 40-man roster.

“He’s active for the game and I can use him, so I told him I might pinch-hit him late in the game or whatever,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.”

As part of his rehab process, Nishioka played in extended Spring Training before playing four games with Single-A Fort Myers and three games with Triple-A Rochester. He batted a combined .333 with a .448 on-base percentage in the Minors, while playing shortstop in all seven games.

But Nishioka, who began the year as the Twins’ starting second baseman before his injury, worked out at both second and short during his rehab stint. Gardenhire said he expects him to be the club’s starting shortstop moving forward with Alexi Casilla shifting to second base.

“I felt really comfortable playing shortstop so I told Gardy that I’m comfortable at any position — second or shortstop,” Nishioka said through translator Ryo Shinkawa. “Whatever he decides, I’ll be comfortable playing it.”

Nishioka will also be playing in his first game at Target Field, as he was injured before the Twins’ first home game of the season on April 8.

“I was looking forward to playing in front of the fans at Target Field so it will be special for me,” Nishioka said.

Here are the lineups for both teams for Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. CT start at Target Field.

WHITE SOX (33-35)

1. Juan Pierre, CF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Carlos Quentin, RF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. A.J. Pierzynski, C
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. Adam Dunn, DH
8. Gordon Beckham, 2B
9. Brent Morel, 3B

RHP Gavin Floyd (6-5, 3.89 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 3.00 K/BB)

TWINS (26-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Delmon Young, DH
5. Luke Hughes, 1B
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Brian Dinkelman, LF
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Drew Butera, C

RHP Carl Pavano (3-5, 4.54 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.83 K/BB)

Update: Morneau to the DL (Game 66 postponed)

MINNEAPOLIS — First baseman Justin Morneau, who has been bothered by a sore left wrist, was expected to return to action today against the White Sox, but is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game.

Morneau had an MRI on his wrist last week and hand specialist Dr. Thomas Varecka took a look at it yesterday during the Twins’ off-day. But the Twins still haven’t announced if there is anything new on the injury front regarding Morneau, or if he’ll need to hit the 15-day disabled list.

Twins trainer Rick McWane is scheduled to give more info on Morneau before the game, so stay tuned.

Update: Morneau’s MRI results were actually sent to Dr. Varecka on Sunday, who recommended a cortisone shot in his left wrist.

Morneau had the shot Sunday and took batting practice in the cages today, but his wrist still felt sore, so he decided to visit with Dr. Varecka before tonight’s game.

McWane said Morneau could hit the DL because he’s already been out for five days, but that they wanted to wait until hearing more from Varecka.

Another update: The game ended up being postponed due to rain and the makeup date is TBA, but Twins general manager Bill Smith announced after the rainout that Morneau will head to the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 10.

Smith sounded confident Morneau will make a speedy return, as he’s having his wrist immobilized for 10 days, but should be ready to go after that.

“We’re looking at this as a short-term event, but we will put him on the DL,” Smith said. “Rest and they believe it will come around in that 10 days plus a few days to get his range of motion back.”

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