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Updated: September 15th, 2011 10:07pm
Twins Daily: Jim Thome set to make his return to Target Field

Twins Daily: Jim Thome set to make his return to Target Field

by Phil Mackey
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With both teams out of the American League Central race, the attention -- if there is any -- surrounding Friday's match-up between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will focus mostly around the return of Jim Thome to Target Field.

Thome was traded to the Indians on Aug. 25, and at the time Cleveland was 6 1/2 games behind Detroit for first place in the American League Central. The homecoming hasn't turned out how Thome or the Indians hoped. Thome is hitting just .240/.309/.340 with one home run in 55 plate appearances, and the Indians have now slipped 13 1/2 games back.

Numbers game

37: Home runs for Thome in 582 plate appearances as a Twin.

602: Career home runs for Thome.

Health report

• LHP Brian Duensing pitched a scoreless inning in relief on Wednesday after missing two weeks with a sore oblique.

• The Twins are hoping first baseman Justin Morneau and outfielder Denard Span can return from concussion symptoms before the end of the season, but with only two weeks left that notion looks more and more unlikely.

On deck

Friday night's pitching match-up (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) will feature right-handers Kevin Slowey (0-5, 6.07) and Ubaldo Jimenez (4-11, 4.61).

Barring a trade this offseason, Slowey will be given strong consideration for a slot in the 2012 starting rotation, but in five starts since rejoining the club he has not fared particularly well. Slowey owns a 6.67 ERA with 36 hits and six home runs allowed in 28 1/3 innings over five starts, including 16 strikeouts and four walks.

For Cleveland, the acquisition of Jimenez has not worked out how they hoped, especially considering they gave up perhaps the two best pitching prospects in the organization to complete the trade with the Colorado Rockies. Jimenez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his eight starts with the Indians, but he was shelled in three of his first four outings -- including allowing eight earned runs in only 3 1/3 innings to the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 21 at a time when the division race was still close.

Coming up

• Saturday: vs. Cleveland, 12:10 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak (0-1, 3.86) vs. RHP Jeanmar Gomez (3-2, 3.95)
• Sunday: vs. Cleveland, 1:10 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (1-4, 3.94) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (11-10, 3.20)
• Monday: @ Yankees, 12:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (8-12, 4.50) vs. RHP Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.71)

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.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd