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Updated: August 11th, 2011 10:02pm
Twins Daily: 'A' lineup back intact with return of Morneau, Casilla

Twins Daily: 'A' lineup back intact with return of Morneau, Casilla

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The injury bug started trickling through the Minnesota Twins' clubhouse on April 7 when Tsuyoshi Nishioka suffered a broken leg in New York that eventually sidelined him for two months.

Shortly after that, Joe Mauer's leg weakness landed him on the disabled list for two months, and others began dropping in the ensuing weeks as well -- Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, Jim Thome, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla.

Scott Baker remains sidelined indefinitely with elbow issues, but with Casilla and Morneau set to rejoin the team in Cleveland on Friday night, the Twins will have the "A" lineup available for the first time in over four months.

But with the Twins sitting 13 games under .500 and 10 games out of first place, it's probably too late.

Playing with a sore left wrist and a pinched nerve that caused weakness and numbness in his left arm, Morneau was hitting just .225/.281/.338 with four home runs in 231 plate appearances prior to undergoing surgery.

His return to the lineup creates a massive logjam involving Michael Cuddyer, Ben Revere, Young, Span, Mauer and even Thome -- all of whom will look for playing time between first base, the outfield or designated hitter.

Numbers game

8: The number of times Morneau and Joe Mauer have been in the same lineup together since July 7, 2010.

4.5%: The amount of Morneau's fly balls that went for home runs prior to him landing on the disabled list -- well below his 14.5% career mark and 17% mark from 2010.

.288/.352/.408: Casilla's batting line since May 15.

Health report

• Morneau went 0-for-4 in his final rehab game with Triple-A Rochester on Thursday night.

• Baker (elbow) will not throw until after the Twins return home from their six-game road trip.

On deck

After narrowly avoiding a winless six-game homestand, the Twins embark on a six-game road trip against the top two teams in the American League Central, beginning Friday (6:05 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.71) faces Indians right-hander Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.71).

Pavano rebounded from a recent rough stretch by tossing eight solid innings against the White Sox last weekend, allowing two runs (one earned) on nine hits. In two starts against the Indians this season, Pavano has allowed four earned runs on 13 hits in 14 innings, striking out six and walking three.

Masterson's outing on Tuesday against Detroit was shortened due to rain, and because he only threw 37 pitches manager Manny Acta moved him up in the rotation. In two outings against the Twins this season, Masterson has allowed only two runs in 15 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking nobody.

Coming up

• Saturday: @ Indians, 6:05 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (8-10, 4.56) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08)
• Sunday: @ Indians, 12:05 p.m. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91) vs. TBA
• Monday: @ Tigers, 6:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (7-9, 5.00) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (11-7, 4.93)

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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