Notes: Casilla likely headed for Minors
Twins off to a better April start; Redmond at DH again
DETROIT -- Now that infielder Jeff Cirillo's return from the disabled list appears almost guaranteed for Tuesday, who will be sent down to open up a spot on the Twins' roster?With two backup infielders currently on the roster and second baseman Luis Castillo expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday as well, it's created a bit of a crowded infield situation. And considering that the team appears content to stick with 12 pitchers, it looks like the move won't take away one of the team's arms. In his pregame session with the media on Sunday morning, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hinted that the move would likely involve infielders, with the odd man out appearing to be Alexi Casilla. "We're going to get two infielders back here in Castillo and Cirillo," Gardenhire said. "So that pretty much tells you where we're at right now." All spring, the Twins' plan was to keep Casilla at Triple-A Rochester as the starting second baseman so he would get consistent playing time and gain a better comfort level on the field. The injury to Cirillo changed that, leaving the Twins without a true backup shortstop option, and Casilla was called up as a replacement with the expectation that he would return to Rochester upon Cirillo's return. But just this past week, Gardenhire said he would consider keeping Casilla on the roster even after both infielders returned. That was due to the speed that Casilla provided the club and the knowledge that Castillo's sore left quad muscle could require some breaks now and then. The change in plans may be due in part to the fact that the 22-year-old infielder has struggled in recent games with some mistakes, primarily on defense. In 14 games with the Twins so far this year, Casilla has been charged with two errors. And at times, he's still appeared to have a tendency to rush some of his throws or hesitate when making decisions in big situations. As a result of those troubles, Gardenhire went with Luis Rodriguez as the starting second baseman for the entire series at Detroit. "We've seemed to be under control out there defensively," Gardenhire said of slotting Rodriguez in the lineup again Sunday. "We're trying to stay away from some of the mental mistakes right now. And it's a good learning process on the bench right now for [Casilla]." The exact roster move won't likely be known until Tuesday. That's because Cirillo wants to test the knee in a game situation before leaving the DL. With the Twins headed to St. Petersburg and the club's Class A Fort Myers squad scheduled for a contest in nearby Clearwater on Monday evening during the team's off-day, it appears likely Cirillo will get the chance to complete a one-game rehab stint. Different view: Last year, the Twins ended a difficult first month of the season with a series at Detroit where they were outscored 33-1 over three games. This year, the Twins once again ended April with a series against the Tigers at Comerica Park, but after picking up victories in the first two games, it's clear that this trip will be much better remembered by the team. "Last year we played the Lions, not the Tigers," Gardenhire said. "That was a football massacre. We've at least stayed away from that 33-1 thing. It was not fun that first series here last year."
Ailing: Mike Redmond was slotted in as the Twins' designated hitter Sunday, although Gardenhire said he had originally considered using Jason Tyner in the spot.The idea to use the left-handed-hitting Tyner came from the fact that lefties have hit .533 off Maroth to start the season. But any thoughts of using Tyner in the spot were erased when he arrived at the ballpark on Sunday feeling under the weather, suffering from what the team felt was a case of food poisoning. Though he spent most of the morning throwing up, Tyner said he had been available as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner in the contest if needed. Mourning a former teammate: Twins starter Ramon Ortiz was watching the TV in the visiting clubhouse on Sunday morning when he saw the news that Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident earlier in the day. Ortiz was teammates with Hancock, 29, during the '05 season in Cincinnati and said the news hit him very hard. Though they spent just one season together pitching for the Reds, Ortiz said he talked with the young reliever every day. "He was a great teammate and a good guy, too," Ortiz said. "I feel sad when I see that on the TV. It's very hard, especially for the family." Twins tidbits: Jason Bartlett was slotted in the second spot of the order on Sunday as Gardenhire said he wanted to add a little more speed to the top of the order. It seemed to spark the shortstop, who delivered a double in his first at-bat. ... Before the NFL Draft began Saturday afternoon, Gardenhire said he was hoping that the Minnesota Vikings would draft running back Adrian Peterson. With most of his family still living in Oklahoma and proclaimed Okie fans, Gardenhire was happy to see the local team make that selection. "I'm excited for the Vikes," Gardenhire said. "This kid looks like a stud. He can really run and he's a game-breaker. I like that pick." Down on the farm: Shortstop Trevor Plouffe was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week ending April 27. Plouffe played in five games for Double-A New Britain and hit .476 (10-for-21) with two doubles, two home runs, five RBIs and six runs. On Saturday, Scott Baker continued his roll of good starts as he allowed just one run over seven innings and struck out seven in Triple-A Rochester's 3-1 victory at Toledo. Left-hander Mike Venafro pitched a scoreless inning and Jose Morales went 3-for-4 in the game with two RBIs. ... Tristan Crawford gave up four runs, three earned, on three hits over two innings in Double-A New Britain's 6-1 loss at Connecticut. Rashad Eldridge drove in the Rock Cats' lone run in the ninth. ... Zach Ward picked up his second loss of the year as he gave up three runs on four hits in just 1 1/3 innings as Class A Fort Myers was defeated, 6-4, at Dunedin. Coming up: The Twins will enjoy an off-day Monday before beginning a three-game series against the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. The contest is a 6:10 p.m. CT start and will feature Twins right-hander Sidney Ponson facing off against Tampa Bay right-hander Edwin Jackson.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.