Span cleared but won't join Twins yet

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 30, 2011 - 1:13 AM

He could join the team as soon as Tuesday.

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The play in which Twins outfielder Denard Span got hurt in June in Kansas City, Mo.

Photo: John Sleezer, Kansas City Star

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OAKLAND, CALIF. - Major League Baseball cleared Denard Span to return from the disabled list Friday -- league approval is now a prerequisite with concussion injuries -- and Span hoped to rejoin the Twins this weekend, but the team felt he needed more time with Class AAA Rochester.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said if things keep going well, Span could be activated for Tuesday's game against the Angels. Span hasn't played with the Twins since June 6.

"I know he's champing at the bit," Gardenhire said. "Let's get him into five or six games in a row, nine innings at a time, make sure we get through all that, with some travel involved in it, and then get him back up here."

Span thought he needed to play nine innings for three consecutive days before the Twins would consider activating him. He said he expected to fly to California after playing one last game for Rochester on Friday, but the Twins had other plans.

Morneau has good day

With his recent migraines behind him, Justin Morneau took big strides in his rehab Friday at Target Field -- running, throwing and swinging a bat for the first time since he had surgery to remove a pinched nerve from his neck.

Morneau hopes to begin a rehab assignment with Rochester soon, but Gardenhire said he should first play in some simulated games in Fort Myers, Fla.

"The one thing we know we have to do with Morneau is slow him down because he's going to be a raging bull in a china shop," Gardenhire said. "Be careful so he doesn't hurt himself again."

Valencia, Nishioka sit

The Twins opened their series against Oakland with third baseman Danny Valencia and shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the bench.

Matt Tolbert played shortstop and Trevor Plouffe was at second base.

Valencia had started all but three of the Twins first 105 games. Gardenhire said he "was a little disappointed" in Valencia for not paying attention late in Thursday's 4-1 loss, when his throwing error led to two unearned runs.

"I just said he can sit with me [Friday] and watch a ballgame," Gardenhire said. "... Danny needs a day [off], too. He's played stinkin' every day. He'll be fine. He doesn't care if you're mad at him or not. Everybody's mad at him. He loves that stuff."

Nishioka went 1-for-16 in the Rangers series.

"He's trying so stinking hard to get a hit, he's pressing a little bit," Gardenhire said. "So give him a break, take a breather, he'll be back out there [Saturday]."

Etc.

• Gardenhire started Joe Mauer at first base Friday, and said the plan is to have him catch Saturday and play first base again Sunday. With an open date Tuesday, Mauer should get a "total refresher" heading into the Angels series, Gardenhire said.

• One clarification from Thursday: Matt Capps didn't have a sore arm; pitching coach Rick Anderson simply wanted to rest him after using him three of the previous four days.

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