Willingham near ready to return to lineup

Outfielder Josh Willingham has suffered a slight setback with his bothersome left knee, and was not in the starting lineup for Sunday’s 9-8 loss to Kansas City.

“He tweaked it when he made a certain movement,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said.

But Ryan made it clear he wasn’t worried about Willingham being out awhile. And that might have been proven in the seventh inning.

Willingham pinch hit for Eduardo Escobar with runners on first and second and smashed a ground-rule double to left off Aaron Crow, scoring the tying run. Willingham was then lifted for pinch runner Brian Dozier, who remained in the game at second base.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he hoped Willingham would need only one day out of the starting lineup before getting back on the field. The timing of the injury was unfortunate because Willingham is a career .364 hitter with one home run off Royals starter Ervin Santana.

“He’s available,” Gardenhire said. “He can DH. I don’t think left field would be a good thing for him right now. I think another day we should get there.”

Crow, despite being righthanded, entered the game doing better against lefties (.222) than righties (.300), an advantage for Willingham in that situation.

Morneau goes deep

Justin Morneau hit his fourth home run of the season in the seventh inning, a line shot into the seats in right field off tough Royals lefthander Tim Collins.

It was his first home run off a lefthander since June 2, 2012, a span of 236 at-bats.

Morneau continues to put in extra work on his swing, and remains confident that he is closer to putting the ball in the seats more often.

“In the middle in the order, your job is to drive in runs,” Morneau said. “However you get that done, it’s important. The easiest way is to hit home runs. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. You can work on it and try to get your swing better. And it has felt better the last few days.

“It’s one of things when you get hot you have that feeling of what you think your swing should be like. That’s when you get more consistent and, hopefully, that’s the case.”

It was the 208th home run of Morneau’s career, passing Kirby Puckett for sole possession of fifth place on the Twins’ career list.

Right way for Hattaway

Clubhouse attendant Wayne Hattaway stopped by Target Field on Sunday. Hattaway, 73, was hospitalized Thursday night at Hennepin County Medical Center when he became dizzy.

Hattaway said he showed some symptoms of a stroke but did not officially have one. He was not put on any medication, but was ordered to drink more water and get some exercise. He plans to return to work Monday.

“Baseball is not going to get rid of me that easily,” he said.


• Ryan Doumit returned to the lineup as the designated hitter, but his sore right ankle is still giving him some problems. “I still won’t try him in right field,” Gardenhire said. “Running is the hardest thing for him. Stopping. But I want to get his bat in there.”

• Class A Cedar Rapids infielder Jorge Polanco has been named Twins minor league player of the week. In four games, Polanco was 9-for-18 with one homer, 10 RBI and five runs scored. Overall, he is batting .306 with three homers and 61 RBI in 73 games. He was signed in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic.

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