Tsuyoshi Nishioka was out on the field for early work today, but is not in the starting lineup against the Rays. Alexi Casilla is at second base tonight.
There should be a contingent of Hellickson backers up from Iowa for this one. Hellickson was voted the Upper Midwest Player of the Year last season by the Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Will check back with updates later
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, without addressing Nishioka's recent horrid play, simply said it was time to get Alexi Casilla in the lineup while Jamey Carroll continues to hold down third base while Trevor Plouffe recovers from a bruised right thumb.
"We’re going to play everybody, as always," Gardenhire said. "That’s just the way it’s going to be. We’ll see how we go day-to-day. Alexi’s going to play. Alexi swung good the other day. Jamey’s been picking it over there, so you play the guys you feel give you the best chance to win each night."
Nishioka was out on the field early Friday, stretching and running in the outfield before taking early batting practice.
“I mean, every day is a new day," Nishioka said. "Thinking about today, it’s a fresh day. During the season it’s always easy to look back at what you did, but I’d rather do that when the season is over. You just want to look ahead while we’re still in season.”
It doesn't look like he's gotten any better. But he tries to remain positive.
"I think you have to take it all in," Nishioka said. "Not just the praises you hear from people in the media but you always have to take the tough criticism and try to take that and have it help you improve as a player. Just looking back in Japan, there were tough times and I was criticized. So you have to take it all in and hope it helps you grow as a player.”
Trevor Plouffe is headed to Class AAA Rochester for what the Twins hope is a brief rehabilitation stint. Plouffe is not going to find out if he's ready unless he sees some game action.
"Yeah, to get about eight at-bats I hope," Gardenhire said. "Get some swings, make sure the thumb is good and get him back up here. Got to get some live at-bats.
Righthander P.J. Walters (shoulder) gave up two runs on four hits and one walk in just two-thirds of an inning on Thursday during a rehabilitation stint at Class AAA Rochester. But he got his work in and will continue with his program.
Reliever Matt Capps (shoulder) is not throwing yet but will be re-evaluated on Monday.
Reliever Anthony Swarzak (shoulder) is doing well with his long toss drills.
Tampa Bay (59-52)
1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. B.J. Upton, CF
3. Matt Joyce, RF
4. Evan Longoria, DH
5. Ben Zobrist, SS
6. Carlos Pena, 1B
7. Jeff Keppinger, 3B
8. Ryan Roberts, 2B
9. Jose Molina, C
Pitching: RHP Jeremy Hellickson
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Ben Revere, RF
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Josh Willingham, LF
5. Justin Morneau, 1B
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Alexi Casilla, 2B
8. Brian Dozier, SS
9. Jamey Carroll, 3B
Pitching: RHP Cole De Vries