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Updated: April 9th, 2012 1:47pm
Notebook: Twins delay Ryan Doumit's home debut in right field

Notebook: Twins delay Ryan Doumit's home debut in right field

by Judd Zulgad
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MINNEAPOLIS - Joe Mauer started at first base for the second consecutive day Monday in the Minnesota Twins' home opener against the Los Angeles Angels, but the move had nothing to do with wanting to get the veteran out from behind the plate.

Rather, manager Ron Gardenhire put Mauer at first base because he wanted to keep Ryan Doumit in the lineup but didn't want him to have to play right field in his first game at Target Field. Trevor Plouffe got the start in right.

"I want to keep Doumit out there," Gardenhire said on Monday. "He hasn't really seen right field here and my thought was to just go ahead and catch Dooms again, let Joe play (at first base) and give Dooms maybe a chance to run around out in the outfield before I put him (there).

"I know the wind is going to be blowing. I know the sun can pop up out there. I thought that might be a little much to ask him to go do that right away, so give him a day out there (to practice in batting practice). He'll be able to go out there and see it a little bit and then we'll get back to normal maybe in a couple days. This just worked out. It gives a chance for Plouffe to get out there against this lefty, too."

Gardenhire, whose team scored only five runs in being swept in a three-game, season-opening series at Baltimore, had Mauer batting third, Doumit sixth and Plouffe eighth.

Mauer was 1-for-10 against the Orioles, Doumit was 0-for-7 and Plouffe was 0-for-1.

Plouffe has become one of the Twins' utility players after making 11 errors in 45 games at shortstop last season. He did play 11 games in right field in 2011.

"It's a position where you have to be familiar with the wall," Plouffe said of playing right field at Target Field. "There's a couple different surfaces out there, but I've worked at it last year and then again this year, so I'm ready for it."

Mauer, meanwhile, said he is getting more comfortable playing first base.

"It's getting a little easier every time you get out (there)," he said. "Obviously, I'm a lot more comfortable behind the plate, but like I told Gardy all along, wherever he needs me that's where I want to go. He's got the pen, and I just go out there and play."

The Twins' original plan for a game like this would have been to have Justin Morneau at first base and Doumit as the potential designated hitter, but that changed with the decision that Morneau would start the season as a DH. 

On his way back 

Righthanded pitcher Liam Hendriks was expected to return to the Twin Cities on Monday afternoon following a hospital stay in Baltimore. Hendriks was unable to make his scheduled start Sunday because of food poisoning.

Hendriks was feeling better, according to Gardenhire, but there was no immediate plan for when he would return to the rotation. Righty Anthony Swarzak made the spot start for the Twins on Sunday and gave up one run and four hits in five innings in a 3-1 loss at Camden Yards.

"We've got to get him here and see how he's looking," Gardenhire said of Hendriks. "He's got to do some work out there and then we'll decide where we go. We've got the day off (Tuesday) and then we've got our rotation set for pretty much the next four days after that and we'll go from there."

Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the club doesn't know how much weight Hendriks (6-1, 205 pounds) has lost. Ryan declined to comment on how Hendriks got sick or what he ate.

"He's OK now, he's fine," Ryan said.

The Twins also are waiting on the return of veteran righty Jason Marquis, who is pitching at Class AA New Britain after missing significant time in spring training to be with his family. Marquis' 7-year-old daughter was involved in a serious bicycle accident in New York and is recovering.

In his first start at New Britain on Friday, Marquis gave up only one run on seven hits, struck out four and walked none over six innings against Richmond. Marquis should need only one more minor league start before he rejoins the Twins. That is scheduled to come Thursday.

"He'll make his next start and then we'll see where he goes from there," Gardenhire said. "He has to be down there 10 days at least and the maximum of 19 days, so we've got some time to play with. ... His first start was really good down there. (He) threw the heck out of the ball, so we should be up to 90-plus pitches now this next start."

And Ryan said if that start goes well, he would expect Marquis will come up. "He's done nothing to disappoint," Ryan said. "Everything he has told me has been true, which is good. He's working (and) threw pretty good the other day."

Gardenhire said he isn't tying Marquis and Hendriks' return together, despite the fact both should end up in the rotation. And Hendriks could be knocked out of the rotation when Scott Baker (elbow) is ready to return.

"We'll figure that out, that's the least of our worries," Gardenhire said of how Marquis and Hendriks will be used. "We'll get them slotted in and then we'll figure out our pitching rotation. But first we've got to get them back here."

Set for a second opinion 

Baker is going to get a second opinion on his sore arm this week. The first MRI on Baker's arm did not reveal anything serious.

Dr. David Altchek, who is based in New York, will exam Baker this week. "I'm trying to push that up as fast as I can," Ryan said.

When asked if there was a sense of frustration, given Baker is saying his arm is sore and an MRI showed nothing really wrong, Ryan said: "No, it's legitimate. He just doesn't feel right. He's trying, he works hard, what are you going to do?

"He just doesn't feel right. Patience is going to play out here and we'll see if we can get him going. I'm sure after he has this second opinion, if it is the same results as the MRI that we gave him in Fort Myers, that will give him peace of mind. So we'll move on from there." 

Time for Capps

With the Twins being swept by the Orioles, they have yet to use righthanded closer Matt Capps.

That is far from ideal.

"That would be a great situation to have our closer in the ballgame," Gardenhire said. "I'll take my chances of having that come up. He needs to throw one way or another. We've got to try to get him out there, get him on the mound. He's been a few days without doing that.

"The best scenario would be him throwing and we win a ballgame and he can end it that way. Whether we're winning by one or winning by five he needs to pitch an inning and he'll get in there one way or another."

Rough start

Ryan did not hesitate when asked if he was disappointed by the Twins' 0-3 start.

"You want to win every game you play," Ryan said, "and we did not play well. We've got to swing the bats better. We had a chance in two of those three and we didn't get it done. Didn't get the hit when we needed one. But nobody is ever going to be satisfied by not winning games. I don't care if it's the first three of the season or the last three.

"You're looking to win every one you play. We did not play well in Baltimore. That's not what we expected to see when we left spring training."

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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