Notebook: Second half rotation set; what to do with Revere, Span?
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CHICAGO -- The Minnesota Twins still have business to take care of with the White Sox this weekend, but after the All-Star break concludes the schedule becomes interesting.
The Twins come out of the break with a massive 12-game AL Central homestand, with four-game series against the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, including a day/night doubleheader on Monday, July 18 against Cleveland.
Francisco Liriano will open the second half for the Twins, followed by Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and some combination of Anthony Swarzak and Scott Baker for the doubleheader, as long as Baker (elbow) is cleared by trainers to pitch.
The Twins won't receive an off day until August 1.
"This doubleheader is going to challenge our pitching staff after the All-Star break, so whether we have to actually go to 13 pitchers is something we've been thinking about too," Gardenhire said, "because you take Swarzy and put him in the starting rotation, then you're short in the bullpen. We've got all kinds of stuff flying at us. We've just go to figure it out step-by-step and day-by-day I guess, that's the way you have to go about it."
What to do with Span, Revere, Delmon, Kubel, etc
With Denard Span (concussion) and Jason Kubel (sprained foot) on the mend and possibly rejoining the lineup within a couple weeks, and with Delmon Young (sprained ankle) likely to be activated on Thursday, the Twins are going to have a logjam in the outfield.
Gardenhire also mentioned "another right-handed hitter who's playing very well" down in Rochester "that is playing down there and moving around the infield that I would like to get up here too," referring to Trevor Plouffe.
"I'll enjoy that problem when I get it, but I haven't," Gardenhire said about the logjam.
"I'll talk to my outfield instructor, see what makes our outfield the best when (Span) comes back, and Kubel. We're going to have a few things to worry about here. ...
"Those good problems are really good."
Revere has been the every-day center fielder for the last month with Span on the shelf, with some combination of Michael Cuddyer, Rene Tosoni and Jason Repko holding down the other two outfield spots.
When the injured players come back healthy, the Twins would essentially have five starting outfielders for three spots, not including first base and designated hitter.
Regardless of how everything shakes out, Gardenhire would prefer to keep Revere and Span in the lineup at all times.
"I like the idea of speed, I like all that running around," Gardenhire said. "It makes it a lot more fun. Keeping Revere in the lineup if I possibly can some way or another would be fun."
He added, "I'm not afraid to put (Revere) in any one of the positions out there. He can run the ball down. Any one of the positions. So that's an option, to keep his bat in the lineup, I wouldn't have a problem with that.
"I can also keep him in center and put Span in right. Span's very comfortable there. If that makes our team a little better, I can do that too. I've got no problem with that. Just tell Span Man that's where you're going to go right now, this is what works out best for us. And then put Cuddy at first. I'm not afraid to try any of that. Whatever it takes to up the best team out there to win a ballgame is what we're going to do from here on out, because we have to catch up."
• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) will make one more rehab start after his outing this Sunday before the Twins must make a roster decision with him. Barring a trade or an opening in the starting rotation, it's likely Slowey will be optioned to Triple-A Rochester as a starter.
• There appeared to be some tension between right-hander Nick Blackburn and White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the third inning on Friday night. Blackburn buzzed Pierzynski up and in with a fastball, but the former Twin followed with a single to right field. After Gordon Beckham popped up to end the inning, Blackburn and Pierzynski appeared to have a brief staredown as they headed back to their respective dugouts.
"Just baseball," Gardenhire said. "You've got to knock him off the plate or he'll kill you. He proved that. If you throw him out and over, he'll just keep ripping it the other way. So you've got to buzz him inside ... Hey, this has been A.J. for as long as we've known him. He'll say things on the field, then it's over with. I laugh at him. He keeps me laughing.
• Gardenhire managed Pierzynski for two seasons with the Twins, but coached him several seasons prior to that. "Off the field he's a nice guy," Gardenhire said. "(Friday) night off the field he aired me out because he said, `You don't even come and talk to me anymore.' I was like. `I haven't seen you out on the field. You're not exactly in my clubhouse anymore.' ...
"He's a good guy. I told him he absolutely makes me laugh during the course of the game, screaming at people, yelling at people, calling people names. That's A.J. He's done it as long as I can remember. He loves to irritate people. It is what it is.''