Pitchers take note of basepaths

PHOENIX - The interleague portion of the schedule has arrived, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has made his annual request to pitchers who suddenly have a bat in their hands.

"Don't get hurt on the basepaths,'' he said.

The Twins have been fortunate to have only a few pitchers injure themselves during interleague games. In 2002, the Twins believe Eric Milton initially injured a knee while trying to beat out a grounder at New York. He needed knee surgery next year and made only three starts.

And Gardenhire brought up a 2006 game at Houston when Carlos Silva ran out a single and then asked to come out of the game while on the basepaths.

"These guys have played baseball their whole lives,'' Gardenhire said. "They've hit and they've run around on the field. In our league they don't do it for a long period of time, then all of a sudden they are thrown into it for a two-week period. That's a little difference. The NL has an advantage because they are doing something they have always done.''

Twins pitchers have been working on their hitting -- and bunting -- for about a week.

"Some of them really believe they can really hit,'' Gardenhire said. "Some of them can, some of them should really understand that they can't.

"Just don't get hurt and let us get through it.''

Mauer, Thome remain in Florida

Joe Mauer and Jim Thome stayed in Florida to continue their recovery from injuries rather than fly to Arizona for Harmon Killebrew's funeral.

Gardenhire said logistics played a big role in Mauer and Thome not joining their teammates for the ceremony.

"I would imagine that if Joe would have wanted to, he could have flown out,'' Gardenhire said," but that would have been an awfully long flight for him to turn [around], and Thome too.''

Mauer, working on getting stronger, has slipped on the catcher's gear and stepped up his work to include running the bases and blocking balls in the dirt. Now he's dealing with soreness following the increased activity.

"He will work his way through it, then we will know more once we get to the point where he's catching bullpens consistently,'' Gardenhire said. "Then maybe getting in some games, and I'm not sure how far that is off.''

Thome (left oblique strain) had five more at-bats in an extended spring training game and still is trying to sharpen his timing. But the Twins still plan to activate him on Monday when they open a six-game homestand.

Nice trip, Skip

The Diamondbacks were on the field early Friday for bunting practice. Manager Kirk Gibson, showing how it's done, dropped down a bunt and took off for first base.

But he ran so hard that he tripped coming across the bag and fell right on his face.

Arizona players burst with laughter, a couple falling to the ground. Moments later, someone used tape to make a body outline of where Gibson landed.

Etc.

• Outfielder Jason Repko (quadriceps) went 0-for-4 on Friday at Class AAA Rochester and is batting .188 on his rehab assignment.

• Reliever Jose Mijares (left elbow strain) will begin a throwing program Saturday.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Trevor Plouffe is the third Twins rookie since 1983 to have three RBI in consecutive games. The others: Matt Lawton (1996) and Danny Valencia last season.

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