Back strain puts Pelfrey on the DL

Twins starter Mike Pelfrey strained his back and went on the 15-day disabled list.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

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– Mike Pelfrey had pitched into the seventh inning in two of his past three starts and, despite giving up 10 hits in his last start Tuesday, he didn’t walk a batter.

There were some things for him to build on while he tries to find his pre-Tommy John surgery form. But he landed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of a back strain. The Twins called up lefthander Pedro Hernandez from Class AAA Rochester to take his place Sunday.

“I’ve missed two starts in my career,” Pelfrey said. “One because I had a kid, the other because of Tommy John. It’s not ideal. And it kind of stinks because I have to miss another start because of the DL, but it would not have been good going out there to pitch.”

Pelfrey felt his back tighten up while running in the outfield before Saturday’s game. He tried to play catch but bent over for 15 or 20 seconds when his back began to bother him, and he left the field.

He said he could bend up and down but had difficulty twisting, which isn’t good for a pitcher.

The Twins could have spot-started Anthony Swarzak on Sunday, but that option disappeared when P.J. Walters was knocked out in the first inning Saturday and Swarzak came in and threw 3 ⅓ innings.

“As soon as the first inning happened, we really got our trainers going and decided we might have to have somebody up here for an emergency,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Hernandez threw 61 pitches in relief of Liam Hendriks on Wednesday for Rochester and was the best option. Righthander Kyle Gibson started Thursday and wasn’t available. Same for Cole De Vries, who started Friday, and Vance Worley, who started Saturday. Lefthander Andrew Albers started Sunday for the Red Wings but is not on the 40-man roster.

Pelfrey reported to the park Sunday morning and offered to give it a shot, but was stopped by the trainers.

“I wasn’t going to fight them too much because I know how bad I feel,” Pelfrey admitted.

Pelfrey will miss one more start while on the DL, and could return in time to face the Yankees on July 4 at Target Field.

Doumit injured

Catcher Ryan Doumit injured his right ankle while diving into home plate in the ninth inning. Doumit missed the plate while trying to score on Oswaldo Arcia’s double. He turned and dived back, but Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes stepped on the plate, causing Doumit to land awkwardly as he reached for the plate.

One problem: Gomes didn’t even have the ball while blocking the plate.

“It’s not that big of a deal as far as I’m concerned,” Doumit said. “But you don’t block home plate without the ball.”

Doumit said he expects to be fine by Tuesday.

Morneau rests

Gardenhire gave first baseman Justin Morneau a day off Sunday. Morneau had played in 17 of 19 games this month and has spent a lot of extra time trying to find his power stroke. Gardenhire sensed Morneau needed a break.

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