Hitters approve of new backdrop

Twins hitters approved of the new batter's eye at Target Field on Friday, even though they didn't exactly kill the ball in their 2-1 victory over Oakland.

Over the winter, the team removed the 14 black spruce trees from behind the center field wall and hung a large, black aluminum backdrop in the hitter's viewing area.

"I liked it," said Twins outfielder Jason Kubel, who had a pinch-hit single off Brett Anderson in the eighth inning. "I saw everything fine. [In batting practice], when it was sunny out there, it was fine. Three o'clock games were the worst ones."

The aluminum mesh backdrop is designed to absorb glare, which Twins players say is the worst in the late afternoons. The afternoon got cloudier as the game went on, making glare less of a possibility, but the Twins still were encouraged.

"I can't make any excuses and say maybe why I didn't hit as good as last year was because of those trees," outfielder Denard Span said. "But I can say having that background there was definitely better than having those trees back there."

Slowey headed to DL
The Twins will place righthanded pitcher Kevin Slowey on the disabled list, according to the Rochester Red Wings, the Twins’ Class AAA affiliate.

The Red Wings released via Twitter late Friday that righthander Alex Burnett will join the major league team.

Slowey had a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his right biceps, and manager Ron Gardenhire said the results showed no structural damage. Slowey pitched in three of the first four games but hasn’t appeared since Monday.

Mauer bats second

Gardenhire moved Joe Mauer into the No. 2 spot in the batting order Friday, replacing injured Tsuyoshi Nishioka, with Justin Morneau moving to the No. 3 spot and Delmon Young batting cleanup.

Mauer hadn't batted second since July 31, 2009.

"I'm in the lineup; I don't really care where I hit," Mauer said. "As long as we can score runs and be productive on the offensive side -- two, three, I'll lead off, I don't really care."

With Nishioka out, Gardenhire said moving Mauer and the others up one spot was the best solution. He also said it's easier moving Mauer to the No. 2 spot now that the lineup has more depth. The only real alternative was moving Alexi Casilla up from the No. 9 spot.

"I don't want to mess with Lexi right now, and it was just easier just to bump these guys up," Gardenhire said. "Joe Mauer's a great on-base guy, and we can get Morneau an at-bat in the first inning, too, so they'll get more at-bats this way, as they say."

Hughes humbled

Twins infielder Luke Hughes got the news he was getting promoted to take Nishioka's roster spot Thursday during batting practice for Class AAA Rochester at Pawtucket, R.I. He was scheduled to bat cleanup and play second base in the Red Wings' season opener.

"I never would have expected to make it back to the big leagues so quickly," said Hughes, who was one of the final cuts in spring training. "It's just too bad what happened yesterday to Nishi. Last year I was out four or five months, so I know what he's going through."

Hughes started at second base Friday and went 0-for-3, hitting one ball to the edge of the left field warning track.

Slowey update

Kevin Slowey had a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his right biceps. Gardenhire said the results showed nothing more than some tendinitis, which is good news. Slowey pitched in three of the first four games but hasn't appeared since Monday.

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