Minnesota Twins' Justin Morneau (33) is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Thursday, May 17, 2012, in Detroit.

Duane Burleson, Associated Press

Morneau's sore arm keeps him on bench

  • Article by: La VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • June 16, 2012 - 12:52 AM

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was held out of Friday's game because of a sore left forearm.

"It's not a big deal, sounded like," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was bothering him during the game [Thursday]."

Gardenhire said the forearm was sore from swinging. Morneau arrived at the ballpark Friday feeling better and willing to test the forearm during early work. But Gardenhire decided to shut down Morneau rom all activity with an eye toward getting him in the lineup Saturday.

"Rather than have him come out and take some swings and see how it was, I said, 'Time. Let's back off today and let it get well.'" Gardenhire said.

Morneau is batting .241 with 10 homers and 33 RBI as he tries to reach 500 plate appearances for the first time since 2008.

He had a stress fracture in his lower back in 2009 then battled concussion symptoms and other ailments since midway through the 2010 season.

He had a small setback in May when he landed on the disabled list with a sore left wrist. He's batting .250 with six home runs and 24 RBI in 26 games since coming off the disabled list.

Hendriks is ready

Righthander Liam Hendriks seems to be ahead of other young pitchers in his willingness to mix up his pitches and not give in to batters. But one thing he got away from during his first stint with the major league club this year was establishing his fastball.

"The one thing everyone has impressed upon him is that you have to be able to locate your fastball more than anything else," Gardenhire said. "Using the breaking pitches and being able to pitch behind when you don't have your great fastball is one thing. You still have to locate a fastball on this level before you can be successful on this level."

Hendriks was sent to Class AAA Rochester on May 7 after going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four starts. He worked on establishing his fastball while fine-tuning his mechanics and is back after going 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA in seven starts.

It's good to have the confidence to throw other pitches in fastball counts, but Hendriks understands that he needs to attack more with his fastball. On Saturday, he plans to show that he's developed when he faces the Brewers.

"The more I throw my fastball, the more my off-speed stuff works for me," he said. "I was kind of pitching the other way around, where I was throwing a lot of off-speed stuff to make my fastball look faster. It just doesn't work that way."

Lester Oliveros was optioned to Rochester to make room for Hendriks.

Berrios on board

Righthander J.O. Berrios, the Twins' second pick in the June 4 draft, was in the Twin Cities on Friday to meet with the club and sign his contract. Berrios, from Puerto Rico, will receive a signing bonus of $1.55 million.

Berrios' fastball has been clocked at 94-96 miles per hour. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup.

"That was my dream since childhood, to be drafted by a major league team -- when I heard my name, it was something unreal," Berrios said through interpreter Hector Otero, the Twins scout who signed him. "I can't wait to get to Minnesota and start my career."


Left fielder Josh Willingham took some grounders at first base before Friday's game. Is something up? "He could do it. He's athletic enough," Gardenhire said. "But no, I didn't have him taking ground balls." Some players will take grounders to break the routine.

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