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Jabs begin after Cuddyer's trip

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • May 2, 2007 - 12:23 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - After watching Michael Cuddyer's scary somersault on the basepaths Tuesday night, the Twins were just happy to laugh. And then, did they ever laugh.

Cuddyer took the vicious tumble while running between second and third base on Justin Morneau's single up the middle in the sixth inning of the team's 9-1 victory over Tampa Bay.

Cuddyer suffered a bruised back when he rolled on top of his errant helmet but was otherwise fine. Josh Rabe took his place in right field for the seventh.

Cuddyer, who hasn't missed a game all season, said he'll be back in the lineup tonight.

"Michael always says he's going to play," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We'll see how he is [today], how sore he gets."

Once the Twins knew their cleanup hitter wasn't badly hurt, the heckling began.

"There's Greg Louganis," said Jason Tyner, who claimed Cuddyer abused him more than anyone after his trip-fall-and-crawl stolen base earlier this season.

"Willie Mays Hayes over there? He can't speak," Cuddyer said. "He didn't even make it to the bag when he slid on a stolen base."

Cuddyer laughed, knowing the jabs were only starting.

"I'll never be able to live that down," he said. "That'll be on the scoreboard [blooper reel] for 15 years."

Castillo was missed

Luis Castillo returned to the Twins lineup after missing 10 games with a strained left quadriceps muscle. To say the team missed him is an understatement.

The Twins went 4-6 without Castillo in this latest stretch, but since he joined the team, the Twins are 101-56 with Castillo in the lineup and 10-21 without him.

"He's our jump-starter," Gardenhire said.

Making their case

Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey made strong showings for Class AAA Rochester of late with Twins General Manager Terry Ryan in attendance.

Baker is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA and appears to be first in line for a potential call-up, based on his experience and his performance. Baker has 23 strikeouts and three walks in 23 innings pitched.

Garza is 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA but has allowed 20 hits and 10 walks in 19 innings pitched.

Slowey is 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA with 28 strikeouts and two walks in 25 2/3 innings pitched. Slowey has the best numbers, but of the three, he also has the least amount of experience beyond Class AA.

Ryan, who is making his standard minor-league rounds, plans to watch two more Red Wings games. He's scheduled to see Garza pitch Thursday.

Liriano stops by

Lefthander Francisco Liriano strolled into the Twins clubhouse after coming up from Fort Myers, Fla., where he is rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery. He will travel with the team from Tampa to Minnesota for the next homestand, just to be closer to the action for a while.

Liriano said he has been playing catch from 30 feet every other day and hasn't had any setbacks. He said he will be throwing from 50 feet soon and beyond that, he's not sure. He will miss this season but hopes to pitch again in the Dominican winter league.

Liriano said he weighs 222 pounds after pitching at 201 last year. His shoulders have become much more muscular.

"I wanted to [gain the weight]," Liriano said. "I think I was too skinny. I feel good. I want to stay the way I am now."

Cirillo activated

As expected, the Twins activated Jeff Cirillo from the disabled list and optioned infielder Alexi Casilla to Rochester. Cirillo likely will start tonight as the designated hitter, Gardenhire said.

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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