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.

Pregame: Mastroianni takes Hicks' place

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 9, 2013 - 6:12 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Joe Nathan recorded his 300th save on Monday night, and Torii Hunter collected his 2,000th hit this afternoon. So April is going well for Twins Past.

Twins Future? That's another matter, and Aaron Hicks will get a chance to catch his breath tonight. "I told him, 'You're with me, son,' " manager Ron Gardenhire said of the rookie center fielder, who is out of the lineup for the first time tonight. Darin Mastroianni will start in place of Hicks, who is 2-for-30 to start the season. "I said, 'Be ready to come into the game.' It's not a day off -- he's just not starting.' "

Mastroianni declared himself completely healed from the bruised shin that's been bothering him for two weeks. "I told [the team's athletic trainers], 'I'm good now. I'm ready to rock and roll," Mastroianni said.

The backup outfielder said he empathizes with Hicks' plight, saying "When things are tough, every at-bat seems tough." But "we've seen what [Hicks] can do; we know what a good hitter he is," Mastroianni said. "All of a sudden, he's going to have a week where he gets jammed and they fall in for him, and then we'll say everything is hunky-dory."

A couple injury updates: Nick Blackburn has begun playing catch in Fort Myers. Raphael Perez will throw live batting practice on Thursday, Samuel Deduno on Friday and Rich Harden on Saturday, as each of them take significant steps toward regaining their health. And Drew Butera has reported to Fort Myers to begin rehabbing his broken hand.

And here's a link worth reading, about Twins prospect Tyler Duffey, who pitched seven perfect innings for Cedar Rapids on Saturday, a no-hitter finished up by the Kernals' bullpen.

Tonight's lineups, with a thunderstorm in the forecast for somewhere between 10 and 11 p.m.:

TWINS
Mastroianni CF
Mauer C
Willingham LF
Morneau 1B
Doumit DH
Plouffe 3B
Parmelee RF
Carroll 2B
Escobar SS

Pelfrey P

ROYALS
Gordon LF
Escobar SS
Butler DH
Moustakas 3B
Perez C
Hosmer 1B
Francoeur RF
Cain CF
Getz 2B

Guthrie P
 

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