Twins send Pinto to Rochester to get more playing time

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Minnesota Twins' Josmil Pinto

Photo: Carlos Osorio, Associated Press - Ap

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– With access to the designated hitter spot now restricted and defensive mechanics to work on behind the plate, the Twins have decided it’s time for Josmil Pinto to play regularly.

So they sent Pinto to Class AAA Rochester on Wednesday, where he can get on the field and work on his game. The Twins will call up a catcher, likely Eric Fryer, before Friday’s game at Detroit.

“It’s not fair for him to sit,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Twins beat Toronto 7-2. “He’s had problems throwing and problems catching, and not playing a lot probably had something to do with it.”

Pinto in batting .222 in 43 games but has seven home runs. That power is what the Twins wanted to tap when they put him on the Opening Day roster. He caught occasionally and got spot starts as the DH.

Things change, however. The Twins signed Kendrys Morales on Sunday, and he will be the regular DH. And Pinto is having trouble throwing accurately. He didn’t even start Wednesday, a day game after Kurt Suzuki caught a night game. Suzuki has worked well with Phil Hughes, but Pinto’s struggles also factored in the decision.

“Pinto has kind of been scuffling along with his throwing, and we’re trying to do some work with him and trying to get him straightened out,” Gardenhire said. “I talked to Suzuki about this, that he might have to catch all three in this series.”

Checkup time

Aaron Hicks is headed back to the Twin Cities to have his sore right shoulder examined.

The center fielder was injured Sunday against Houston while diving for a ball at Target Field, and the shoulder continues to bother him. If the it checks out OK, Hicks could return to the team in time for Friday’s game. Or he could land on the disabled list.

“It’s a little painful to throw,” said Hicks, who added he didn’t believe the injury is serious.

Sam Fuld could play a role in this. On a rehab assignment at Class AA New Britain, the veteran outfielder has been limited to three plate appearances per game as part of a careful plan following a concussion. But Fuld is at the point where he can play a full game and could join the Twins as soon as this weekend. If that’s the case, then a Hicks-for-Fuld swap is likely. It just depends if the .198-hitting Hicks is going on the DL or to Rochester to work on his swing.

Tryout camp set

The Twins will hold their annual tryout camp June 22 at Siebert Field on the University of Minnesota campus. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and is open to any high school graduate, junior in college or anyone at least 21 years old. There will be drills and skills evaluation in the morning, followed by a scrimmage in the afternoon. Reliever Mark Hamburger was the last player signed from the tryout camp to reach the majors.

Etc.

• The agent for Jason Kubel informed the Twins that the outfielder is not interested in accepting an assignment to the minors if he clears waivers. So it appears as though Kubel, designated for assignment Sunday, will elect for free agency.

• In what was known two months ago, Gardenhire has been officially named to the All-Star Game coaching staff. It will be his third All-Star assignment. He joins Cleveland manager Terry Francona on AL manager John Farrell’s staff. Twins head trainer Dave Pruemer also will work the game.

• Second baseman Brian Dozier left Wednesday’s game after colliding with shortstop Eduardo Nunez while chasing a pop fly and taking a knee in the back. Dozier said his lower left back is sore but added that he should be fine.

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