As tribute, '61 uniforms to stay

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 15, 2011 - 1:20 AM
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The Twins had Harmon Killebrew's No. 3 jersey in their dugout Friday.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Twins players decided to wear their cream-colored 1961 throwback uniforms for all remaining home games this year, as a tribute to Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

The front office and manager Ron Gardenhire gave their full support.

"I've got no problem with that at all," Gardenhire said. "I think that's wonderful, to tell you the truth."

Killebrew, 74, announced Friday that he is nearing the end of his battle with esophageal cancer.

Former Twins Tony Oliva and Julio Becquer flew to Arizona on Saturday to visit Killebrew. Hall of Famers Paul Molitor (Friday) and Rod Carew (Sunday) also made plans to see him.

In a statement, Angels outfielder and former Twins star Torii Hunter said: "Harmon was a tremendous player but is an even greater man. ... My family and I join the countless people around the country sending their thoughts and prayers to Harmon and his family."

Morneau keeps pushing

Since losing about 17 pounds and missing five games because of a viral infection in mid-April, Justin Morneau has become a lineup fixture for the Twins. He played his 13th consecutive game Saturday, though it was also his 10th in a row without an RBI.

"He's trying to play his way through it," Gardenhire said. "The hard part about a season is, normally when it's hot, you lose more weight. I guess we're fortunate we're playing in a liittle cold weather, so he's probably not losing as much.

"But he's definitely still thin. You can see it in his face and stuff. Guys are pretty strict on their diets. I don't know how much weight you're going to gain on mac-and-cheese, so we've got to get him eating other stuff."

Morneau is batting .223 with one homer and nine RBI, but Gardenhire sounds encouraged by his recent at-bats.

"He's working his tail off to get back, but as far as gaining the weight back, it's a process," Gardenhire said. "When you're playing every day, it's hard to do."

Training room tidbits

• Jim Thome (strained oblique) could be ready to begin hitting in extended spring training games Monday. The Twins play at Arizona next weekend with no designated hitter, but Gardenhire said he would still like to have Thome available off the bench for that series.

• Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken left fibula) probably won't be ready to play rehab games for another week or more. Gardenhire said Nishioka will need at least 10 days of game action before he is ready to return from the disabled list. The plan would likely have Nishioka start out playing games in Florida and then advance to Class AAA Rochester after a week.

• Jason Repko (strained quad) played in an extended spring training game Saturday and is scheduled to do that again Monday.

Manager hobbled, too

Gardenhire couldn't even avoid the Twins' injury bug. He was icing a sore left Achilles' tendon before Saturday's game.

"Too many trips to the mound," he said. "I told [Carl] Pavano that, and he liked it."

Gardenhire, 54, actually ruptured his right Achilles' when he was coaching third base for the Twins in 1995.

"That's why I'm really nervous," he said. "I know what the first one felt like. I don't want a second one. I don't run fast enough to blow them anymore, I don't think."

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