Pregame notes: Injuries put Plouffe, Valencia together again with Twins
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While I'm finishing my work at Winter Park, a team of 1500ESPN.com correspondents are handling pregame developments at Target Field. Here's the latest:
MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortstop Trevor Plouffe and third baseman Danny Valencia were called aside individually by Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on March 19 and given the expected news that they were being optioned to Class-AAA Rochester.
"I told both that I expected to see them some time during the year -- that they get a chance to play for the Twins,'' Gardenhire said. "I didn't know that it would be at the same time.''
That's because Gardenhire did not know that he would have three infielders on the disabled list in early June.
Backup Alexi Casilla went on DL with bone chips in his right elbow on June 1. Second baseman Orlando Hudson went on the DL with a sprained left wrist on June 8 (retroactive to June 1). And shortstop J.J. Hardy went to the DL with a bone bruise in his left wrist on Friday (retroactive to June 7).
This was Hardy's second trip to the DL with the same injury. It was during the first stay on the DL that Plouffe spent five days with the Twins. He played three games, went 3 for 14 and drove in three runs.
The Twins sent him back to Rochester assuming that Hardy was good-to-go. That wasn't the case. He was OK one day, hurting the next, and when Hudson was hurt, the Twins had to give Gardenhire a reinforcement in the infield.
That's when Valencia arrived on June 3, took over at third, with Nick Punto available to play at second base or shortstop. Valencia has gone 8-for-26 in seven games without an RBI.
On Friday, Plouffe returned from Rochester to replace Hardy. So, there was Gardenhire's infield: rookie Plouffe at shortstop, batting second; rookie Valencia at third, batting eighth; and Punto, the veteran gloveman, at second.
Gardenhire was asked before this series opener against Atlanta if he had given advice to Plouffe and Valencia back in mid-March on what they should be working on in the minors.
"Absolutely,'' the manager said. "With Plouffe, throwing was the thing - getting rid of the ball quicker. When he was here the first time, he made all the throws, all the plays. And Valencia has been outstanding at third for us.
"We talk about the need for depth. And that's what we see here with these kids ... depth.''
How aobut Harris?
Gardenhire was asked if he worries about the effect of inaction on Brendan Harris, the veteran infielder. Harris' season has been an abomination to this point: 16 for 99 (.162) with one home run and four RBIs.
"Harry's going to play,'' the manager said. "He played the whole series in Oakland. In the last (Kansas City) series, we were hitting the ball around pretty good, so we stayed with three other guys.
"I always worry about players not getting to play. Harry will be in there this weekend ... probably (Saturday).''