Twins notes: Hicks a late lineup scratch

Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks was scratched two hours before the first pitch Wednesday because of back spasms.

Hicks said he felt good during an early batting practice session but tweaked his back during team batting practice. He said it could be due to the amount of righthanded swings he has taken over the past few days since he stopped batting from the left side.

“I think I might’ve just overworked it and trying to do too much,” Hicks said.

Danny Santana replaced Hicks in center field and batted ninth. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout.

Hicks didn’t rule out the possibility of playing Thursday, but he said the spasms have created discomfort.

“I’m just going to take some pills, sleep on it and see how it feels tomorrow,” Hicks said.

Pelfrey update

Pitcher Mike Pelfrey had a setback in his rehab assignment due to right shoulder discomfort and flew back to Minnesota to be evaluated on Wednesday night.

Antony said Pelfrey was reporting soreness and stiffness in his shoulder on Tuesday, four days after his second rehab start with Class AAA Rochester. Pelfrey pitched five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and two walks on Friday.

The righthander was placed on the disabled list on May 2 due to a groin strain, but Antony said the injury wasn’t an issue during his two rehab starts. The team does not know when Pelfrey will leave for another rehab assignment.

“The groin is fine,” Antony said. “He was trying to get his pitching back — the arm strength, confidence. He didn’t give up any runs in five innings, but I didn’t think he felt great about his last outing.”

Sticking with Suzuki

Catcher Kurt Suzuki has struggled against Rangers pitcher Joe Saunders during his career, but he batted sixth against the lefthander Wednesday. Entering the game, Suzuki had the most at-bats on the team against Saunders (31) with just two hits (one home run).

Manager Ron Gardenhire said Suzuki was pleading his case to stay in the lineup following Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the Rangers.

“I’m due, skipper; don’t take me out of the game,” Gardenhire said Suzuki told him.

Saunders, 32, was making his first start since he was placed on the disabled list on April 7 because of a stress fracture in his left ankle. Gardenhire opted to stick with Suzuki because he was hitting .341 (15-for-44) against lefthanders this season, and he likes the way Suzuki handles starting pitcher Kyle Gibson.

“He controls him a little bit better right now,” Gardenhire said. “He’s able to talk to him and calm him down, so that’s another big part of it.”

Josmil Pinto didn’t start for the fourth consecutive game. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning Tuesday in his only at-bat over three games. Gardenhire said he thinks it’s risky to have both catchers in the lineup, but Pinto will start behind the plate Thursday with Samuel Deduno on the mound.

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