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Updated: October 1st, 2010 4:38pm
Notebook: Thome returns to the starting lineup; Morneau post-workout update

Notebook: Thome returns to the starting lineup; Morneau post-workout update

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- On Thursday night, the Minnesota Twins received a boost when Joe Mauer and J.J. Hardy both returned to the lineup after battling knee issues.

On Friday night, designated hitter Jim Thome was penciled back into the starting lineup after missing more than a week with back troubles.

Thome was scheduled for two plate appearances, and after that, "we'll see how we feel," he said.

"It's a little more than a knot. I don't think the right term to use is a knot. But yeah, it's gone. It feels much better today."

Thome went on to describe the symptoms as "tightness and soreness," adding that he has experienced similar episodes in past seasons.

He now has three games, depending on how manager Ron Gardenhire decides to use him, to get back to the groove that saw him post a ridiculous .280/.412/.631 batting line through the first 159 games.

"That's why I really wanted to get in there (Friday)," Thome said. "At least see some pitches and kind of get back into a groove before next week. It's just nice to be back."

Gardenhire says Morneau 'feels great' after Thursday workout

Justin Morneau went through a full workout prior to Thursday night's game, and on Friday Gardenhire said the first baseman "feels great."

"Everything went great," Gardenhire said. "Just did some light stuff inside -- physical activity yesterday, mind work today. That's a crossword puzzle in there. So that's basically what he's doing today is just kind of chilling out, relaxing. He did a lot of work yesterday, so taking a few swings and leave it at that."

Morneau could participate in baseball activities again on Saturday.

"We won't hit on the field (Saturday), we'll be in the cage because it's a noon game, so he'll get his swings in the cage with the rest of the guys," Gardenhire said. "And if he wants to come out and take some groundballs, we can definitely set that up. We just have to see how he feels and what he wants to do."

On Thursday, Morneau ruled out returning for the ALDS, but he continues to work toward a possible ALCS appearance, should the Twins advance that far.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd