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Twins Saturday: Minnesota tries Clete Thomas at top of order

Minnesota hopes Clete Thomas is fleet afoot when he assumes a leadoff role.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Just when Trevor Plouffe was ready to play again, the Twins third baseman caught another bout of bad luck.


Plouffe had just come off the 7-day concussion disabled list in late May and was doing his pregame warm-ups for a game against Milwaukee at Target Field. That's when Plouffe tweaked his calf and wound up missing more time on the 15-day disabled list.


Finally, Plouffe is ready to play again for the first time since May 21. He was activated from the DL following Friday's game and was in the lineup Saturday -- his 27th birthday -- batting sixth against the Tigers.


"It's tough. I was listening to every game and just wishing I was there," Plouffe said of his long layoff. "This is my second family here. These guys, I've grown to love them. You want to be in battle with them. It's good to be back."


Plouffe spent four games at Triple-A Rochester as part of his rehab assignment. He went 5-for-15 with a home run and three RBI.


In Plouffe's absence, the Twins used a combination of veteran Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar at third base. Plouffe said his calf hasn't given him any problems lately at third base.


"I moved around well in Rochester," Plouffe said. "I've been able to move around for a week, week and a half, so I feel good."


Before landing on the DL, Plouffe was batting .254 with four homers and 17 RBI in 37 games.


"All we can do is run him out here and see how he's doing," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's facing a very good pitcher in (Anibal) Sanchez. He's right back into the fire, as they say."


Thomas leads off: For the first time this season, Clete Thomas was in the leadoff spot for the Twins. Gardenhire penciled the center fielder into the top spot in the lineup for Saturday's game against Detroit.


Minnesota has struggled to find consistency in the leadoff spot all season. Carroll spent the last six games in that spot and has batted leadoff a team-high 25 times this year. Second baseman Brian Dozier has also spent 20 games in the leadoff spot.


This is Thomas' first in that position this year. He batted second on June 9 against Washington but has otherwise batted seventh or eighth since his call-up from Rochester earlier this month.


Thomas does have experience as a leadoff batter, having done so 19 times in his career before Saturday. That includes one time with the Twins last year and 18 times with the Tigers.


"He's been having good at-bats," Gardenhire said of Thomas. "He drew some walks. Right now, we're kind of desperate. We're looking for somebody to give us quality at-bats. He's been swinging the bat good. He came up (from Rochester) swinging the bat good. You take your chance. Lefties do better than righties off this guy. … Hopefully we'll be able to do some things against him."


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