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Updated: July 11th, 2011 9:13pm
Twins Daily: Ron Gardenhire explains Trevor Plouffe's throwing issues

Twins Daily: Ron Gardenhire explains Trevor Plouffe's throwing issues

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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When the Minnesota Twins return from the All-Star break on Thursday, they will be rejoined by infielder Trevor Plouffe, who was recalled form Triple-A Rochester on Sunday after going on an offensive tear over the past few weeks.

Plouffe hit just .200/.310/.383 with three home runs in 71 plate appearances in a short stint with the Twins earlier this year, but he was hitting .313/.384/.635 with 15 home runs in 220 plate appearances for Rochester at the time of his call-up.

Plouffe was sent back to the minor leagues in late-May primarily because of shaky defense and an extremely inconsistent arm at shortstop.

"It was a constant (conversation) -- picking the ball up, same thing, catch the ball and follow your throws," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's always been the same thing with him. He stops, kind of lets it go and falls back, rather than following his throws and going through it.

"I think one of the things that has been an issue with Plouffe is he's had so many different people trying to tell him how to throw the ball, and I just want him to throw it and finish it, follow it. My biggest thing with an infielder is if they stop and they're flat-footed and the ball just (sails). So when you throw the ball, just like a pitcher -- not too many pitchers stop and fall backwards. Franky (Liriano) does, but not too many. So it's all about finishing your throw off and following through."

Plouffe is unlikely to see much time at shortstop with the Twins, mostly because Tsuyoshi Nishioka has settled in nicely over the last couple weeks. But Gardenhire had Plouffe playing first base during his last week at Triple-A, and he has also been deemed major-league ready in the corner outfield spots by Rochester manager Tom Nieto.

Numbers game

22: Home runs hit by Justin Morneau in the 2008 Home Run Derby, when he ousted Lance Berkman, Ryan Bruan, Dan Uggla, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley, Evan Longoria and Josh Hamilton, who hit 28 home runs in the first round before running out of gas.

5: Home runs hit by Joe Mauer in the 2009 Home Run Derby.

Health report

• OF Denard Span (concussion) will visit with doctors on Tuesday or Wednesday in hopes of being cleared to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. Span went through pre-game workouts and batting practice with his teammates in Chicago and reported no ill effects, according to head athletic trainer Rick McWane. Once cleared for a rehab assignment, Span would need 7-10 games with Triple-A Rochester before being activated, per Gardenhire.

• OF Jason Kubel (sprained foot) will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, but his foot is still bothering him, and a return is not imminent. Don't expect Kubel to return for at least another 7-10 days.

• RHP Scott Baker (strained right flexor muscle) still needs to throw a bullpen session after the All-Star break, but he's currently in line to rejoin the starting rotation on July 18 against the Indians.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings for Rochester on Sunday, striking out three while allowing only five baserunners. Slowey will likely make one more rehab start before the Twins are forced to officially option him to Triple-A.

On deck

All-Star break

Coming up

• Wednesday: All-Star break
• Thursday: vs. Kansas City, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (5-7, 5.06) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (5-2, 3.26).
• Friday: vs. Kansas City, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-6, 4.24) vs. RHP Luke Hochevar (5-8, 5.46).

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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