Helling getting closer to returning to pitching rotation
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Torii Hunter presents his Gold Glove to first base coach Jerry White on Sunday. (Minnesota Twins)
MINNEAPOLIS -- Center fielder Torii Hunter keeps one American League Gold Glove trophy at his house. He gave another one to his mother.
What did Hunter decide to do upon receiving trophy No. 3 in ceremonies held before Sunday's Twins-Royals game?
"I'd like to turn my Gold Glove over to Jerry White," Hunter announced.
White is the Twins' first base coach and also coaches the outfielders. Not knowing of Hunter's plans, he was stunned when he was handed the trophy.
"I didn't know what to say," said White, a Major League outfielder from 1974-86. "I thought it was a great gift for him to do something like that."
Torii Hunter / CF
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"(He) helped me through my minor league career and with the Twins," said Hunter, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
White was coaching in the Twins minor league organization when he first encountered Hunter as a 17-year-old first-round draft pick in 1993. He's enjoyed working with him over the years.
"It's been an honor," White said. "It's been fun. He hasn't changed since he was 17 and came into the organization. He's a workaholic. He's a gifted athlete. He works hard. Whatever you ask of him. He does it."
So, what will White do with Hunter's gift?
"(Keep it) in the house somewhere," White surmised. "It's kind of hard for me to accept. He earned it. Just give me a practice glove."
Hunter had a .991 fielding percentage in 2003, with only four errors in 434 total chances. He is the first Twin to claim at least three consecutive Gold Glove Awards since Kirby Puckett, who won six awards and four straight from 1986-89.
Helling close: If expected fifth-starter Rick Helling was healthy, Sunday would have likely been his turn to pitch for Minnesota. Instead, Helling is working his way back from a broken right fibula in Fort Myers.
Helling took the mound Sunday in a Gulf Coast League game and threw 45 pitches over two innings. He then threw 30 more pitches in a simulated game against minor league hitters in extended
Spring Training. No problems were reported.
"He's all out on his drills," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "I'm sure he's feeling good."
A return date for Helling remains unclear, but it could be sometime in early May.
Lineup changes: For the first time since becoming the everyday catcher, after injuries to Joe Mauer and Matthew LeCroy, Henry Blanco was given a day off. Rookie Rob Bowen made his first start of the season behind the plate.
Blanco is batting .458 (11-for-24) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games.
"Bowen has to catch," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Henry gets a day. He's been catching every day. He's done a great job. He's learning our pitchers and you can see that as the game calling goes along. He's getting better and better."
With Sunday's day game after a night game, third baseman Corey Koskie was not in the starting lineup. Michael Cuddyer started at third base but was
lifted for pinch-hitter Koskie, who remained in the game.
Seeing red: The Twins debuted their new red caps Sunday. The hats have blue bills and were originally worn by the Minnesota teams in the 1970s and 1980s.
The red caps will be worn for all Sunday home games this season.
Down on the farm: Triple-A Rochester first baseman Justin Morneau was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week. Morneau was 17-for-35 (.486) with four homers and 13 RBIs last week.
is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.