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Updated: April 21st, 2010 5:27pm
Pregame notes: Punto sits again, Neshek plays catch

Pregame notes: Punto sits again, Neshek plays catch

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Broken record alert: Brendan Harris will start in place of Nick Punto (groin), and Pat Neshek (finger) remains unavailable as the Twins prepare for game two of a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians.

Regarding Punto, manager Ron Gardenhire said, "If we can, we're going to try to get him today and tomorrow at least. The cold weather is not conducive for tonight... He feels good, but he's not totally there, and I don't want to screw around."

Neshek, who has been out since April 14 with a strained middle finger on his pitching hand, played catch for about 15 minutes with pitching coach Rick Anderson before batting practice today.

"He felt OK," Gardenhire said. "He's going to come back and maybe throw a bullpen tomorrow if everything's OK.

"Then if he throws a bullpen, he'll probably need a day off or two from there."

At this point, it would make sense for the Twins to put Neshek on the DL, retroactive to April 14, and recall somebody from class-AAA Rochester. Rob Delaney (2.84 ERA, seven strikeouts, three walks in 6 1/3 innings) remains the most logical 40-man roster option.

Anthony Slama (2.25 ERA, 13 strikeouts, five walks in eight innings) remains the most logical overall option, but the Twins would be forced to make a 40-man roster move to call him up.

"A luxury is 12 pitchers, and that's why we can afford to wait a little bit with the off day (last Monday)," Gardenhire said. "Last night we didn't have to use much, so that's good."

* Francisco Liriano will attempt to carry over his lights out stuff from last week against Boston, as he takes on veteran left-hander David Huff for the Indians.

Liriano is back to pumping a 94-95 mph fastball with a nasty slider, which is what he was doing during winter league and spring training as well. With temperatures dipping into the 50's tonight, we'll see how Liriano's stuff stacks up.

"Franky's just got to trust his fastball and his catcher," Gardenhire said. "Stay with Joe on the signs. The ball's coming out of his hand fantastic. He's confident, the whole package. Just stay with the program. Use his fastball, get that going early in and out, then everything else works; the changeup, the slider become better and better."

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