Pregame notes: Slowey's short outings, updates on Hardy, Casilla, Nathan
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MINNEAPOLIS -- From a wild first inning, to a spectacular debut by SS Trevor Plouffe, to Carlos Gomez admiring a meaningless late-inning home run, last night's 15-3 throttling of the Milwaukee Brewers provided plenty of entertainment.
This afternoon, Kevin Slowey (5-3, 4.70) will attempt to put an end to his struggles, as he faces Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (4-2, 2.89). Slowey has pitched into the seventh inning only one time all season -- an eight-inning gem at home against Cleveland on April 20.
Beyond that, Slowey's longest outing came against Detroit on May 5, when he threw 5 2/3, allowing nine baserunners and three earned runs.
Slowey's potential success is based largely on his control, but his walk rate in 2010 (2.45 walks per nine) is double his rate from 2009 (1.35), when he posted a 3.99 ERA.
Gallardo has been fantastic for the Brewers this season. Since April 10, he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his seven starts, striking out 51 batters in those 41 innings. Gallardo does struggle with control at times (4.9 walks per nine), and the Twins offense has drawn the third-most walks in baseball, so a patient approach may help get into that mess of a Brewers bullpen.
* Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who grinded through mental battles in Milwaukee last season, continues to rehab his injured wrist. The Twins are hoping he can return on Tuesday, but the process has been slower than everyone anticipated.
"If he's OK, we might just activate him and let him play," Gardenhire said, regarding a possible rehab stint for Hardy. "That would be the best scenario. That's kind of what we'd like to do, rather than send him out."
Hardy was scheduled to take batting practice in the cage today, and Gardenhire plans to reassess the situation on Sunday.
As for Plouffe's immediate future, Gardenhire said, "We're not even that far. He's just going to play here, that's why we called him up... We'll see where we go from here. We don't know where Hardy's situation is going to take us yet.
"We're just going to let the kid play, and play while you're here. And if you have to send him back you send him back. If you keep him you keep him. He can play multiple positions too."
Not surprisingly, Plouffe's phone blew up after his two-hit, two-RBI debut last night.
"I told him, 'congratulations,'" Gardenhire said. "I asked him this morning how many texts and phone calls he had. He said plenty, which is a good thing. Back in my day, you had to climb up a telephone pole and answer. Petticoat Junction."
* Brewers OF Carlos Gomez ruffled some feathers on Friday night when he admired a three-run home run in the eighth inning of a 15-3 game. Gomez felt bad after the game, saying he expected the Twins to retaliate on Saturday.
Three hours before today's game, however, Gardenhire didn't seem to harbor any hard feelings.
"I don't worry about that stuff," Gardenhire said. "Go-Go is one of my favorites. I enjoyed the heck out of having him here. It was just one of those moments we know Go-Go can have every once in a while. He's excited, and it just happened, and I think everybody out in the clubhouse, yeah we were fired up about it, but when it's all said and done we like this kid a lot.
"We know what he brought to us here. If it were somebody else, it might be a little different, but with Go-Go we all just (said), 'seen it, done it.'"
"He plays with a passion that not a lot of people do. He doesn't have to apologize to me. I know what he's all about. That's him."
* Joe Nathan saw Dr. (David) Altchek in New York, and according to Gardenhire, "everything was fantastic."
"Everything's going along on schedule, and everything looks really good."
"I think everybody that's ever thrown a ball has had that."
* RHP Pat Neshek (hand) threw a six-minute bullpen session recently, and he's pitching without pain. He's scheduled for another bullpen session on Sunday.