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Updated: May 21st, 2010 5:59pm
Pregame notes: Plouffe to debut, Casilla undergoes MRI on elbow

Pregame notes: Plouffe to debut, Casilla undergoes MRI on elbow

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortstop Trevor Plouffe, who was recalled from Class-AAA Rochester after yesterday's game in Boston, will bat eighth in his Major League debut tonight for the Twins.

There was a time when the future looked somewhat bleak for Plouffe, who was drafted by the Twins in the first round back in 2004. His best offensive season came in 2007, when as a 21-year-old he hit .274/.326/.410 with nine home runs at Class-AA New Britain -- certainly not spectacular numbers.

Plouffe has also taken criticism for his defensive skills.

But something clicked for Plouffe at Rochester this season. Prior to his call-up, the young shortstop was hitting .303/.367/.493 with 18 extra base hits in 152 at bats.

"I actually told him, when I sent him down in spring training, I said, 'We'll see you in the big leagues this year, I really believe that,'" manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I thought that he came in and really played. I thought he played well and handled himself real well. You could see he was a lot more comfortable being around the staff and the other players, and didn't shy away from too much, and played when he was out there."

Plouffe has also improved on some of his defensive deficiencies.

"He catches the ball good, but his throwing action was a little bit loose, and he would wing it all over the place," Gardenhire said. "And he's got more and more consistent with that and his arm angles. He's got great range and he can hit and all those things, and he's very athletic. It was just about getting consistent out at shortstop and making the routine play. He can make the great one too, but making the routine plays and the routine throws, and he's done that very well this year."

Starting shortstop J.J. Hardy remains sidelined with a wrist injury, and because he hasn't faced live pitching in nearly three weeks, Gardenhire hinted the Twins may send him on a rehab assignment before they activate him.

Gardenhire also revealed that INF Alexi Casilla has been battling a sore throwing elbow. He underwent an MRI earlier today, but results were not yet available.

With Hardy and Casilla ailing, Plouffe may actually hang around with the big league squad longer than originally expected.

NOTES

* Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez (shoulder) was activated before tonight's game. The former Twin will bat second and play centerfield.

Gomez was off to a solid start this season before landing on the disabled list -- .276/.321/.447 with eight extra base hits and six steals in 76 at bats. He spent time before batting practice chatting with former coaches and familiar faces.

"Typical Go-Go," Gardenhire said. "Funny. Always fun to see him, miss him a lot."

As a Twin, Gomez was among the best defensive centerfielders in all of baseball, but a crowded outfield and a lack of plate discipline kept him from being an every day player in 2009. Gomez was eventually traded for Hardy last fall.

* RHP Clay Condrey (elbow) threw 50 pitches today and felt good, according to Gardenhire.

RHP Pat Neshek (hand) played catch for about 10 minutes today and felt good as well.

The Twins will reanalyze both pitchers in the coming days, and barring setbacks, we could see both of them on rehab assignments in the very near future.

I'm actually told Neshek feels better now than he has at any point since originally hurting his finger/hand back in mid-April.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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