Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Postgame: Lots of lineup options when Arcia returns

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 17, 2013 - 12:25 AM

A few thoughts after another marathon baseball game -- three and a half hours to play eight and a half innings:

-- I'll be interested to see what Ron Gardenhire's lineup looks like tomorrow. He made it clear after tonight's game that he wants to get Oswaldo Arcia -- the 21-year-old hitting phenom who was recalled after the game -- as much playing time as possible while Darin Mastroianni is out, but how will he do it? It's hard to imagine Gardenhire risking Arcia in center field, where he hasn't played in a few years, especially after he dropped a fly ball on Monday. Chris Parmelee is in right field, had a hit tonight, and will be facing a right-hander in Angels starter Tommy Hanson. Josh Willingham, fighting off a stomach flu, will probably be "available" Wednesday, Gardenhire said; not sure if that means he'll be on the bench as a pinch-hitter or if he'll be back in left field. With an off day Thursday, he might give Willingham another day to recover, in hopes he is at full strength by Friday.

Then again, Gardenhire likes to use someone other than Joe Mauer as catcher on the day before an off day, because it gives Mauer two full days of rest. With Mauer riding a 9-for-11 hot streak, would Gardenhire keep him in the lineup, or move him to DH? If he does neither, it opens up the DH spot for Arcia. He could also play Mauer at first base -- Gardenhire mentioned he had suggested giving Justin Morneau a DH day, but Morneau talked him out of it. Not likely that Morneau would sit with a right-hander on the mound anyway.

In addition to shoehorning Arcia into the lineup, there's the matter of the leadoff spot. Mastroianni was easy to slot in for Hicks, but now it will be at least two weeks before he can do it again. Does Gardenhire stick with Brian Dozier, who went 2-for-4 with a in that spot tonight? Or does he go back to Hicks? It seems likely that Dozier will stay there as long as he hits, but we'll see whether Hicks moves back up if/when he starts hitting.

-- Hicks drew two walks tonight, made all the plays in center, and scored twice. His batting average fell to .044 -- that's 2-for-45 now -- but Gardenhire remains encouraged that the rookie is going to come out of this soon. The Twins should hope so, because with Mastroianni out, and no obvious solution on their 40-man roster at the moment, it looks like Hicks will keep the job as long as Gardenhire sees positives.

-- Pitching coach Rick Anderson wasn't with the team tonight. He's away for a couple of days, the Twins said, on a family matter. Bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar, who spent the past couple of seasons as a pitching coach in the Twins' minor-league system, handles the staff in Anderson's absence.
 

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