Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Thome scratched; Gardenhire hints at Plouffe's promotion

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins game coverage Updated: May 3, 2011 - 6:31 PM

CHICAGO -- Offense has been the biggest issue for the Twins and White Sox, heading into their first meeting of the season, tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox scored fewer than six in 10 consecutive games before defeating Baltimore 6-2 on Monday. The Twins, of course, have scored six or more runs just once in 27 games.

Tonight offers a showdown between two occasionally dominant pitchers who've had their recent struggles: Chicago’s Edwin Jackson is 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA in his past four starts and has allowed 34 hits in 21 1/3 innings. Francisco Liriano is 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA for the season.

The Twins might be trying to underplay this, but with Kevin Slowey ready to start by this weekend, I can’t see Liriano getting another start if he repeats his struggles again tonight. Liriano had a hard time in the cold at Target Field last Wednesday against Tampa Bay, and tonight’s forecast calls for temperatures in the low-40s.

Note: The Twins announced a make-up date for their April 22 rainout against Cleveland. That game will be played on July 18 at 12:10 p.m., as part of a day-night doubleheader at Target Field.

Update: Alexi Casilla is playing second base, and Matt Tolbert is at shortstop.

* The Twins say Joe Mauer is feeling stronger and will begin hitting and throwing at Target Field on Wednesday.

* Manager Ron Gardenhire gave strong hints that Trevor Plouffe will be promoted soon from Class AAA Rochester. Gardenhire said he wants Tsuyoshi Nishioka fielding balls at shortstop, but it sounds like Plouffe would play shortstop until Nishioka is ready.

Gardenhire said Casilla told him second base is easier to play than shortstop, and moving Casilla to second tonight was done to try to make him more comfortable.

* Slowey will be activated from the DL while the Twins are in Boston, Gardenhire said. Slowey would join the bullpen in long relief, though Gardenhire noted that could change.

Update: Jim Thome has been scratched with a sore left oblique muscle. Jason Kubel moves to DH, and Rene Tosoni enters in left field.

TWINS (9-18)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Jason Kubel, LF DH
5. Michael Cuddyer, RF
6. Jim Thome, DH Rene Tosoni, LF
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Drew Butera, C
9. Matt Tolbert, SS

Starting pitcher: LH Francisco Liriano (1-4, 9.13 ERA)

WHITE SOX (11-19)

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Adam Dunn, DH
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. Carlos Quentin, RF
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. Ramon Castro, C
8. Gordon Beckham, 2B
9. Brent Morel, 3B

Starting pitcher: RH Edwin Jackson (2-3, 5.86 ERA)

U.S. Cellular Field. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network

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