Wednesday's matchup between the Rangers and Twins at Target Field will feature a rare sign of good health for Texas.
Pitcher Joe Saunders will be activated from the disabled list and make his first appearance since April 4. On that night, Saunders gave up five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings vs. the Rays in his only start of the season. He suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle and has been out ever since.
"I'm itching and twitching," Saunders said. "I will probably have to slow myself down, because I will be a little amped up. We are in a pretty good place with all that's happened, and I want to be a part of it -- rather than cheering them on. My pom-poms are getting pretty worn out."
Manager Ron Washington said Saunders will be under no pitch limitations.
"He's stretched out," Washington said. "He can go until we've got to take him out."
Texas has made headlines with injuries all season. Twelve players are currently on the disabled list, and ace Yu Darvish was scratched from his Tuesday start with a sore neck. This comes just after star first baseman Prince Fielder underwent neck surgery that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season.
"It's definitely a different lineup with Prince not in there," said Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson, who will start opposite Saunders. "But they have a lot of guys who hit the ball hard to the gaps."
Gibson brings a 4-4 record and 4.68 ERA into Wednesday's outing. The second-year hurler has been unable to keep pace with his excellent start to the season. He began the campaign with three straight wins while holding opponents to two total earned runs in 19 1/3 innings.
Since then, Gibson's ERA has ballooned while he's struggled with his consistency. He gave up six earned runs in just two innings at Detroit on May 10 before allowing five runs in five innings at San Francisco on Friday.
The caveat is Gibson has found much more success at home than on the road. He's posted a 3-1 record with a 2.25 ERA in four starts at Target Field, where he will face the Rangers for the first time on Wednesday.
"I don't think there's anything to it," Gibson said. "I feel like the numbers are definitely very interesting. A little deceiving at times. Couple breaks here and there in a game that change a lot. I feel like each start I've been real close to having a quality start.
"It's not like I like throwing here better than anywhere else. I just feel like I'm catching breaks here that I'm not catching on the road."
Twins: Hicks proving worth with glove
After announcing on Monday that he would cease switch-hitting to become a full-time right-handed-hitter, Aaron Hicks went 2-for-4 with a diving catch in center field on Memorial Day.
On Tuesday, Hicks one-upped himself on the defensive end with a spectacular catch over the center-field fence that robbed Donnie Murphy of a three-run home run. So while the 24-year-old might be going through some changes in the batter's box, the team can still count on Hicks fielding his position at an elite level.
"I'm going to do the best I can to limit runs," Hicks said.
Rangers: Choice still driving in runs
Outfielder Michael Choice was out of the lineup on Tuesday as Washington wanted to get some at-bats at designated hitter for Murphy.
Choice is hitting just .198, but he also has 19 RBIs in 111 at-bats. That averages out to an RBI every 5.84 at-bats, which is the best ratio for any Texas player with at least 100 at-bats. Going into Tuesday, it also ranked 23rd among 131 American League players with at least 100 at-bats.
"Every time he plays, he seems to do something," Washington said. "It's just a matter of being consistent."
• Rangers outfielder Alex Rios extended his hitting streak to 10 games with Tuesday's 3-for-4 night. He also has a multihit streak of seven games, which is two behind Rusty Greer's club record of nine set in 2000.
• Rios holds the highest career batting average (.359) in Target Field history.
• Six-time All-Star Joe Mauer was not listed in Tuesday's initial All-Star balloting results, which revealed the top five vote-getters at each infield position and top 15 in the outfield. Mauer's current batting average of .283 is the second lowest of his career through his first 44 games of a season. He hit .278 through 44 games in 2011, the last year he didn't make the All-Star team.
Alex Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.