Postponement keeps Twins from playing short again

Rain spared the Minnesota Twins from playing short-handed again,

with Justin Morneau and Delmon Young still ailing and out of the

lineup for Friday’s game before the steady precipitation prompted

the postponement.

The sputtering defending division champions are counting on

better, brighter days ahead.

”It hasn’t been a fun start for everybody, so hopefully we can

move past this and put it behind us,” Morneau said as he left the

clubhouse, a few minutes after the game was called.

The weather is expected to be better this weekend for the

remaining two games at Target Field against the league-leading

Cleveland Indians, and manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau should

be recovered enough from a stomach virus to try to return on

Saturday afternoon.

Young took some pregame swings in the batting cage to test his

sore ribs, and Gardenhire said the left fielder felt fine

afterward. Had Young continued to experience pain, Gardenhire said

he would probably be placed on the disabled list.

That’s where catcher Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka already are

with leg injuries, leaving the Twins missing nearly half of their

lineup. Morneau hasn’t played since last Saturday, and Young hasn’t

played since Monday, leaving Gardenhire with just two bench

players. The manager told pitcher Brian Duensing to put spikes on

once this week in case a pinch runner was necessary. With Joe

Nathan still trying to get back on track in the bullpen, sending a

reliever to the minors for an extra position player was not a move

the Twins wanted to make.

”There’s not a lot of options, really. You just kind of mix ’em

around,” Gardenhire said.

Twins pushed the scheduled start for Duensing back to Saturday,

when he will face the Indians and Fausto Carmona. The Twins left

Carl Pavano in line to start Sunday, facing right-hander Carlos

Carrasco, who was bumped back a day like Carmona.

The Twins then moved left-hander Francisco Liriano to Tuesday

night against the Tampa Bay Rays, giving him seven days off between

starts. The Indians were planning to start right-hander Jeanmar

Gomez on Sunday, but with an off day on Monday there was no

immediate word on when he will start again.

This was the second postponed game in Target Field history. The

Twins had one postponement in May last season as well as one game

suspended by rain and finished the next day. After playing in the

Metrodome for 28 years, they moved outside to their new

limestone-and-glass ballpark on the edge of downtown last

season.

Consider this one a case of good timing for the Twins. The green

globs on Gardenhire’s laptop – he had weather radar pulled up on

the screen before the game in his office – turned out to be a good

sign.

”I think we’ve been beat up before and had some injuries. …

But I don’t know this early in the season,” Gardenhire said. ”The

funny thing about it: We came out of spring training the only team

healthy, and it didn’t take very long to where we weren’t the only

team healthy. So it happens. It’s the game. You’ve got to just work

your way through it.”

– Morneau lost between 10 and 12 pounds due to dehydration. His

voice was weak and his face gaunt, but he had a smile on his face

as he talked about trying to play Saturday.

”I didn’t really have any food for about four days. It is what

it is,” Morneau said, adding: ”Hopefully this’ll be the time

instead of August or September. Get this out of the way in April

and get everybody healthy.”

Morneau had a shot to relieve stiffness and inflammation in his

neck, a problem that popped up before he got sick.

”That’s a one-day thing, and he would be available tomorrow,”

Gardenhire said.

– Young had an MRI on his ribs that revealed no damage.

– Mauer is doing pool workouts while trying to recover from a

flu-like viral infection. The sickness and weakness caused soreness

throughout his body, particularly in his legs, which prompted the

Twins to put him on the DL. He lost some weight, too.

”We have to let him get over this viral flu bug and then we see

where he’s at and what his body feels like,” Gardenhire said.

”He’s almost there. He’s still not quite there, but when he’s

there then we can get him back to the baseball side of it and get

him checked out with the parts that are aching the most.”

– Nishioka has been doing pool workouts. He stayed back while

the team went on the road last week and is still several weeks from

being ready.

”He says he’s watched all the games, and he was real excited

when I got thrown out of the game,” Gardenhire said. ”He thought

that was pretty entertaining.”