Willingham could be back in lineup by Aug. 9

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2013 - 8:56 AM

Minnesota Twins' Josh Willingham

Photo: Carlos Osorio, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins are about a week away from getting a key member of their lineup back.

Outfielder Josh Willingham has been taking batting practice all week and getting his running in as he recovers from left knee surgery he had on June 5. On Friday, Willingham hit balls all over Target Field. He hasn’t run the bases yet. “I’m back up to 10 miles an hour,” Willingham quipped about his running program.

On Monday, Willingham will join Class AAA Rochester for a rehab program. He’ll be the DH for a couple games then play the outfield. If all goes well, he could return to the lineup Aug. 9 when the team opens a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago.

Clete, it’s all yours

With Aaron Hicks now at Class AAA Rochester, Clete Thomas is the only true center fielder on the roster. The Twins’ willingness to go with Thomas shows that they have been satisfied with how he has played despite a .228 batting average.

“Clete’s been playing well,” manager Ron Gardenhire said before Thomas scored the winning run in the Twins’ 4-3, 13-inning victory over the Astros. “Played well in center, played well in left. Has done a decent job with the bat. He’s come a long way. He’s shortened his swing, he puts the ball in play better.”

While Thomas is in center, there is no identifiable backup.

“Do I have a second center fielder in the house?” Gardy said, repeating the question. “Sure I do. I’ll let you know when I have to put one out there. Let’s not talk about that. It makes me nervous.”

As for Hicks …

Hicks, however, is the long-term solution in center. While he was excellent in the field, he dug a big hole for himself at the plate and was falling back into that hole in recent weeks.

He was sent to Rochester to become the hitter he should be, one that works counts and makes pitchers pay for mistakes.

The Twins told Hicks that he must earn a call-up before the season ends. They said the same thing to Brian Dozier last season and didn’t give him a September call-up when he didn’t perform the way they wanted him to.

So they are serious about Hicks ending his season in the minors if he doesn’t produce.

“We told him there was no guarantee he would be back up in September,” Gardenhire said. “He has to earn it. If he wants to get called back up, he has to go down there produce and play. And that’s the way it should be, with everybody else.”

With Willingham, Darin Mastroianni and Wilkin Ramirez beginning rehab assignments, the Twins are about a week away from having other outfielders to choose from.

Same reaction

Twins GM Terry Ryan was asked for his reaction to Thursday’s loss to the Royals, when Gardenhire said, “the fans don’t deserve to watch this crap.”

“I’m not sure I’d use the same vocabulary but we had a very difficult game in a lot of areas,” Ryan said. “Not just defensively.” Later, he added: “Gardy is right. No one deserves to pay good money to watch what went on.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Baltimore «00053100X970
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:M.Gonzalez(7-7) L:T.May(0-4)
HR: MIN- T.Plouffe (11) BAL- D.Young (7), C.Davis (24)


Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland - LP: J. Lester 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 4
Los Angeles 2 Bottom 11th Inning
San Diego 2
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 8 FINAL
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 3
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 4th Qtr 11:07
Arizona 51
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question