Pregame notes: Cuddyer in center field as Span gets rare day off
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With minicamp concluding at Winter Park, 1500ESPN.com contributor Joe Anderson had pregame covered at Target Field. Here's his report:
Span will be replaced in the leadoff spot for Sunday's series finale against Atlanta by Nick Punto, whmo Gardenhire said fits the bill because he can "take pitches, draw walks and bunt," and Michael Cuddyer will roam center field.
Infielders J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson may have been candidates for the lead-off spot had they been healthy, Gardenhire said, but both are on the disabled list with wrist injuries.
Jason Kubel will man Cuddyer's spot in right field.
Asked about Span's reaction to being taken out of the lineup, Gardenhire said he "gave me a high-five."
Joe Mauer will get a day off behind the plate but will be in the lineup as the designated hitter, with Drew Butera catching.
* Asked if he would like to have an extra position player to facilitate double-switches on the upcoming road trip to Philadelphia and New York, Gardenhire said he would "like to have someone to work with" but it doesn't always work out that way.
* RHP Kevin Slowey, who took a perfect game into the fifth inning in the first game of the homestand against Kansas City, has the American League's second-best ERA in June at 0.64, trailing only Cleveland's Justin Masterson 0.61 (minimum 10 innings pitched).
* Braves 3B Chipper Jones is out of the lineup with an injury to his right ring finger.
* Many of the players participated in the team's Family Day by bringing their kids to the park early to run around the outfield and get their knees dirty by crawling in the infield.