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Updated: August 15th, 2010 11:58am
Punto to be activated before Tuesday's game; Hardy likely to start Tuesday

Punto to be activated before Tuesday's game; Hardy likely to start Tuesday

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Manager Ron Gardenhire said infielder Nick Punto (hamstring) will be activated following Sunday's game against Oakland. Punto had been sidelined since July 16.

Gardenhire provided no specific word on a corresponding roster move, but it seems likely that Jose Morales, who has only five plate appearances since being recalled on July 26, would be sent back to Class-AAA Rochester.

Update: Morales was indeed optioned back to Rochester after Sunday's game.

Gardenhire also said shortstop J.J. Hardy (wrist) is likely to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday against the White Sox. Hardy has missed the last three games with a strained left wrist, which is different than the bone bruise he experienced earlier in the season.

"He's feeling great," Gardenhire said. "Honestly, he feels really good. This has been a good break for him."

With a full allotment of infielders -- Punto, Hardy, Alexi Casilla, Orlando Hudson and Danny Valencia -- Gardenhire said he will "just mix them all around."

"Valencia is playing very well and deserves to be out there right now. Nicky's going to get his playing time all over the infield. This is the time of year (that) bodies are a little beat up anyways, so we just mix and match.

"It gives you a lot of depth on the infield, I know that, and a lot of different options you can throw out there and feel very comfortable with any of them, defensively and offensively."

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