The last time Jason Kubel played for the Twins, the team was in Detroit, about to hit rock bottom.
He sprained his left foot on May 30 while jumping for a ball at the wall at Comerica Park and hasn't been seen in the lineup since. Two days later, the Twins dropped to 17-37 and there didn't seem to be a need for Kubel to hurry back.
But the Twins have fought back, and were seven games under .500 and seven games out in the AL Central after Friday's loss to first-place Detroit. Kubel was the team's best hitter at the time of the injury with a .310 average, five homers and 30 RBI.
"I'm pretty excited," Kubel said. "They are in a lot better shape now than they were when I left. To watch how well they have been playing has been fun, and to contribute one way or another will be fun."
Kubel had a rehab stint aborted last month when he joined Class A Fort Myers but aggravated his foot while changing directions in the outfield. He returned to the Twin Cities and backed off field running in exchange for pool workouts. That, coupled with the All-Star break, did the trick.
Kubel said he can make all the cuts he needs in the outfield, and his swing is ready after batting .333 with a homer over five games for Class AAA Rochester. He went 1-for 2 Friday, with two walks.
"All of a sudden, it just clicked," Kubel said of his final few days with Rochester.
With Kubel in the lineup, the heart of the Twins order Friday looked as dangerous as it has all season.
"It we can get a bunch of guys hitting at the same time, it will be fun," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Twins righthander Scott Baker said it will probably take a few pitches into the first inning on Saturday before he knows for sure that he's licked the sore flexor muscle that forced him onto the disabled list.
"I think that goes for any injury," he said.
Baker expects to have some restrictions on the number of pitches he can throw Saturday. Baker's last start was July 5 against Tampa Bay.
Baker was officially activated from the disabled list after Friday's game. To make room, the Twins optioned infielder Luke Hughes to Rochester. The Twins decided after the game to keep 13 pitchers because they have nine more days without an offday and the bullpen has been busy lately.
Hughes batted .237 with three homers and 15 RBI in 60 games with the Twins.
ESPN on Revere play
Ben Revere's wild triple on July 15 -- when he tumbled between second and third but still dived in safely -- has been broken down by ESPN's sports science expert John Brenkus as the play of the week.
Brenkus points out how Revere lost his balance right after stepping on second base but instinctively tucked in his shoulder and rolled as he hit the ground. It took 3.3 seconds for Revere to run between first and second and still only 3.9 seconds to go from second to third.
• Outfielder Denard Span is scheduled to play seven innings Saturday for Rochester as he continues to recover from a concussion. Twins trainer Rick McWane said Span must build up to nine innings, then play several consecutive nine-inning games before the Twins will consider activating him.