Notes: LeCroy a familiar face for Twins
Casilla gets time off to hone swing; bullpen overworked
CHICAGO -- The call certainly came as a surprise to Matthew LeCroy.Having just returned home from the Clemson football game on Saturday night, LeCroy answered the phone to find Twins general manager Terry Ryan on the other end of the line. With the ankle sprain that Jose Morales suffered on Saturday expected to keep him out for the rest of the season, the Twins were looking for another catcher to help the injury-plagued staff. So the Twins selected LeCroy's contract from Triple-A Rochester and moved Morales to the 60-day DL to make room for LeCroy on the 40-man roster. It certainly wasn't the news that LeCroy was expecting. LeCroy even told manager Ron Gardenhire that he thought at first it was a call inviting him to help coach instructional league. That's the type of season LeCroy had at Rochester this year. Playing in 80 games for the Red Wings, LeCroy hit just .194 with three home runs and 25 RBIs. He caught about 25 games during that span. LeCroy admits it wasn't the easiest season to deal with, considering not only the offensive struggles but that he was back in the Minors after having some success in the Majors. "Life is just not easy down there," LeCroy said. "You don't have any scouting reports. You don't have planes, and we take buses pretty much all the places. The amenities are not the same. But that's the good thing about being in the big leagues, is it's so different. And that's what makes it good about making your way back up here." With the callup, LeCroy's coaching career has been delayed, at least for now. And he hopes that it will continue to be for at least another season. He plans on playing some winter ball after Christmas and hopefully getting himself healthy enough to make another run at playing ball in 2008. At the moment, LeCroy is focusing on his second opportunity to rejoin the Twins. He flew into Chicago on Sunday morning and received a raucous welcome in the clubhouse. His former teammates greeted him with plenty of smiles and hugs to go around. "I miss a lot of these guys," LeCroy said. "So hopefully I can help them out any way I can while I'm here ... and get some free meals out of [Michael] Cuddyer." It's that sense of humor and jovial nature that has earned LeCroy the respect of all of his teammates. And it's why Gardenhire was so pleased to have him back up with the club, even if his role likely will be limited. "He can provide us with an emergency catcher or a pinch-hitter," Gardenhire said. "But more so, just having a quality person like him around is going to make September a little easier to deal with here." Rest continues: Alexi Casilla was not in the starting lineup again on Sunday, marking the sixth time in the last eight days the second baseman has been on the bench. Gardenhire reiterated on Sunday that the time off is to let Casilla work in the cage on shortening his swing. One thing the coaching staff would like to Casilla do is to take better swings with two strikes. The hope is that with his speed and small frame, Casilla would find a way to make better contract in those situations. During the series against the White Sox, the coaches have taken the opportunity to point out how other hitters handle that scenario -- including their opponents. "We've seen some of their younger guys on the other side get to two strikes and have better at-bats," Gardenhire said. "So hopefully he watches some of that and picks up on it." Tough test: Joe Mauer knew that his sore left hamstring likely would be tested in his return to the lineup on Sunday. What he didn't expect was to have that test include scoring from first base on an RBI triple. The Twins catcher drew a walk in the eighth inning as part of a 1-for-3 day at the plate. His one-out walk was followed by Justin Morneau hitting a ball off the left-field wall that caused Mauer to be waved home from first. "I just tried to stay the same speed," Mauer said of his run. "I knew I'd be waved around, but I didn't try to do anything more than I could do. Thank God, everything held together." Mauer said the hamstring felt the same after the game and he feels good about the chances that he'll be behind the plate again in Monday night's contest at Kansas City. "We'll see how it is tomorrow," Mauer said. "I'm a little sore all over, but hopefully I can be back in there."
Bullpen fatigue: One thing the Twins haven't been accustomed to is seeing their bullpen give up runs.That's changed over the last couple of days, as the relief corps has blown two late leads. Part of the problem is related to injuries that the 'pen has been dealt this season, and also a case of some arms being overworked. "We're going through this with our bullpen right now, because they're beat up a bit," Gardenhire said. "So we're seeing what other teams have seen. I'm not used to going out there and guys not getting the job done. No one is used to it around here. The fans aren't, the pitching coach is not, and really, the team is not. Right now we're bringing in guys and they're giving up runs." Quotable: "I hate seeing the young kid get hurt. To come up his first game and blow his ankle out, that's real sad and disappointing for him. No one wants to see that happen. But the upside, I guess, is that he's hitting 1.000 and not too many people can say that about Major League Baseball." -- Gardenhire, on Morales' injury after going 3-for-3 in his debut Coming up: The Twins head to Kansas City on Monday for the start of a three-game series with the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Boof Bonser (6-12, 4.95) is looking to pick up his first victory against Kansas City this season. He will face off against Royals right-hander Billy Buckner (0-0, 5.40) at 7:10 p.m. CT.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.