PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ricky Nolasco will be on the mound for the first time since March 2, and Scott Diamond will try to right himself after a couple of so-so outings today. But it's the players who aren't here for the noon CDT game with the Rays that are most notable.
Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia, both of whom had been expected to be back in the lineup today, stayed back in Fort Myers. And while manager Ron Gardenhire downplayed their absence, I wonder if he is a little annoyed that they aren't playing again.
"I can't take a chance on them coming here, working out and all of a sudden they feel something" and can't play, Gardenhire said. "I don't have enough people for that. ... Hopefully they'll be ready to go tomorrow."
Wednesday will mark eight days since either player appeared in the Twins' lineup, and Hicks hasn't played in the outfield since March 3, a long stretch for a player trying to earn a job. Arcia suffered what he believes is food poisoning, and Hicks felt tightness in his throwing elbow, knocking them out of action for a week.
"Arcia reported yesterday that he still feels a little something, but he thinks it's going to be OK. And Hicks, we haven't heard a word. He wasn't in when we left, or I haven't seen him," Gardenhire said. The center fielder was observed working in the batting cages Tuesday morning, but apparently didn't relay word of his status to the coaching staff. "Both of them need to hit on the field and tell me they're OK," Gardenhire said. With three straight home games coming up after today, he said he hopes that they'll play this week, ideally tomorrow against Pittsburgh.
Matt Guerrier makes his spring debut today in a minor league game back in Fort Myers, where Glen Perkins and Jared Burton are also scheduled to pitch. As for this game, here are the starting lineups, with the Twins set to face Tampa Bay ace David Price:
E. Escobar SS
Y. Escobar SS