It felt strange enough, Trevor Plouffe said, to arrive at his locker in the Twins’ clubhouse Saturday to find a box filled with hundreds of sticks topped with paper images of his face. The third baseman knew it would only get weirder when he took the field against the White Sox, as the fans in the stands began waving the fans in their hands.
The Plouffes-on-a-stick were given away before the game, the latest in a promotional series that also includes manager Ron Gardenhire, Joe Mauer, Bert Blyleven and mascot T.C. Bear. Plouffe had seen the others, but he said it still was a little unnerving to look at all those cardboard clones of himself. The promotion was his first with the Twins and the second to feature his likeness, joining a bobblehead from Plouffe’s days with the Twins’ Class AAA affiliate in Rochester.
“There must be hundreds of them here,’’ Plouffe said. “I don’t know what to do with all of them. Maybe I’ll give them to my mom.’’
The fans got plenty of use on a toasty night. Plouffe hoped the timing would extend his streak of good fortune against the White Sox. He entered Saturday’s game with seven hits and five RBI in 17 at-bats against Chicago this season.
All systems go
Gardenhire and General Manager Terry Ryan enjoyed good news Saturday about their three injured pitchers. Kyle Gibson, who missed Saturday’s start because of lower back stiffness, threw a bullpen session Saturday afternoon and was declared ready to start Tuesday at Kansas City. Phil Hughes, struck in the right shin by a batted ball Thursday, felt much better and will not miss a start.
Ricky Nolasco, on the 15-day disabled list because of a right elbow strain, will throw a bullpen session Sunday. Nolasco will accompany the Twins on their road trip to Kansas City and Chicago, and Ryan said he will throw two or three more bullpen sessions on the trip before beginning a rehab assignment.
Mauer did not swing a bat Saturday as he continues his recovery from a right oblique strain. He took ground balls during batting practice and will swing again Sunday.
Danny Santana led off for the Twins again Saturday, and Gardenhire said he expects him to continue developing the skills to stay in that spot. The rookie outfielder has led off in 28 games for the Twins this season; entering Saturday, he was batting .283 at the top of the order, with eight doubles, two home runs, 13 RBI and 15 runs scored.
Gardenhire said that Santana still is learning to be more selective at the plate. The goal is for him to get on base 35 to 40 percent of the time, and the manager thinks he is capable.
The Twins will screen the 1994 film “Little Big League’’ on the Target Field scoreboard after Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. game. As part of a 20th anniversary celebration of the movie — about an 11-year-old boy who becomes owner and manager of the Twins — the team has named a client of the Ronald McDonald House to serve as honorary manager for the day. Lakeville resident Ryan Lueschen, 14, was born with a rare heart condition, and he will deliver the Twins’ lineup card to the umpires before the game.
The star of “Little Big League,’’ Luke Edwards, and former Twins radio announcer John Gordon, who appeared in the film, also will be at Target Field on Sunday and will sign autographs during the ninth inning at the Twins’ Digital Clubhouse.