Twins Wednesday: Minnesota to shuffle outfield with Willingham out
JUL 03, 2013 7:59p ET
With Willingham out, the door is now open for a few players to see more playing time in his absence. Oswaldo Arcia got the start in left field on Wednesday against the New York Yankees, while Clete Thomas started in right. Outfielder Chris Parmelee also figures to get more playing time in right field as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire shuffles his lineup over the coming weeks.
"As I told the outfielders, we're going to kind of do the best we can to keep everybody swinging," Gardenhire said before Wednesday's game. "Arcia's going to get plenty of at-bats. Parms is going to get plenty of at-bats. We'll use Clete. We'll mix and match as best we possibly can. These guys are going to get to play a little bit now and see if they can take advantage of it. We'll see what happens."
Twins general manager Terry Ryan wouldn't put a timetable on Willingham's return, but Willingham said after Tuesday's game that he expects to be out four to six weeks.
Aaron Hicks is also back in the fold after he was activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's game. If not for Willingham's injury, though, Hicks still likely would have been on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester.
Hicks doubled in his first at-bat in his return Tuesday but is still batting just .186 entering Wednesday's game. But he does provide an upgrade defensively in center field over Thomas, who certainly held his own while Hicks was on the DL.
"You look at Aaron, he's an above-average defender, very athletic," Gardenhire said. "He covers a lot of ground; good instincts out there. He's our future, and we want him out there. Clete did a really nice job for us filling in, and he'll get plenty of playing time up here because of that."
Tough stretch for the bullpen: What was once a strength for the Twins earlier this season has been a weakness over the last several games. Minnesota's bullpen has been among the best in baseball but blew a lead in Monday's game against the Yankees and gave up four more runs in Tuesday's 7-3 loss.
The last few days have left Gardenhire scratching his head as the games have gotten into the late innings.
"We're trying to figure out who to go to right now," Gardenhire said. "These guys have been very, very good for us. We have a lot of confidence in them. But right now we're kind of scuffling through there, trying to find the right mix and match and kind of work some things out with these guys."
Set-up man Jared Burton gave up three runs in Monday's loss and left-hander Brian Duensing followed him by allowing four runs (three earned). Tuesday, right-hander Anthony Swarzak gave up four runs in the loss.
There have been a few bright spots in the bullpen, however. Rookie left-hander Caleb Thielbar pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday and has now made 15 appearances (16 2/3 innings) without allowing a run to start his career. Casey Fien has allowed just one run over his last 13 innings (14 appearances).
"Casey's been throwing really well, and (Thielbar) has been throwing really well lately," Gardenhire said. "We'll try to get them in the right situations, depending on how deep the starter goes, and work our way through with the other guys."
Ramirez returns to Minneapolis: Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez was back in the Twin Cities on Wednesday to undergo testing for his concussion. Ramirez hasn't played since May 25 after suffering a concussion in a game against Detroit, and he endured a setback during his rehab work in Fort Myers, Fla.
"He jarred his head when he dove for the ball," Ryan said. "Unfortunately, he got dizzy and so forth, so we left him down there for three or four extra days because you don't want to put a guy on an airplane with that."
Ryan said Ramirez landed in Minneapolis on Tuesday, and he was at Target Field on Wednesday. A timetable for his return still remains uncertain.
"Now we're going to end up going through the same process again," Ryan said. "And then we'll send him out on a rehab (assignment) again."
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