DETROIT -- Pat Neshek said that his right middle finger wasn't bothering him during his short outing on Wednesday night, when he walked a batter and hit one with a pitch.The right-hander, who didn't pitch for 10 days between April 14 and this past Saturday, threw eight pitches but only one for a strike. "That's the best it's felt out there," Neshek said of his finger after the game on Wednesday night. "It felt good. I just didn't have the command, and it was one of those off nights. I felt I made a couple good pitches there, the first couple. I just didn't get the call and then everything was up." Prior to Wednesday's outing, when he gave up two runs while facing just the two Tigers batters, Neshek had tallied five scoreless appearances this season. One concern on Wednesday night was that Neshek's velocity was down, but the Twins hope that it will just take some time for Neshek to get his feel back after so much time off. "He just felt like he needs to work more, but with the finger, it's been kind of hard," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We tried to pace ourselves. He said it felt like he hadn't been out there in awhile. He didn't have a release point or anything like that. [He] looks to me like a guy that needs to pitch."
Morneau, Hardy sit out; Mauer pinch-hits
DETROIT -- The Twins' lineup was missing a few key contributors for Thursday's series finale against the Tigers, as Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and J.J. Hardy were all on the bench.For Morneau, it marked the second consecutive game he has missed due to mid-oblique stiffness in his back. And while Morneau wasn't planning to swing a bat on Thursday, the first baseman said that he isn't concerned about the injury and hopes to be back in the lineup perhaps as early as Friday's series opener in Cleveland. "I should be good to go [Friday]," Morneau said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow, when I get to the field and start swinging and stuff. [I] felt better yesterday than I thought it was going to when I woke up. Today, even better." While Morneau is feeling better, both he and manager Ron Gardenhire agreed that it was best to try to take these couple of days to let the muscle heal. Morneau felt something "grab" in the muscle during the first swing of his final at-bat in the fifth inning on Tuesday night. It was the first time that Morneau had felt something like this in his back on one swing, so he felt the smart thing to do was not to push it. "You don't want to take a chance with something like this," Gardenhire said. "We know he isn't going to change his swing. He's going to swing -- let it fly -- and so you just give him a couple days here. He's probably going to start arguing here within the next day or two. We're just going to try to do the right thing." Hardy has been battling a case of turf toe, Gardenhire said. The shortstop played through the injury in Wednesday night's game and was considered to be available off the bench for the contest. But Gardenhire felt it was best to give Hardy, who said he played with the injury a lot last season, a chance to stay off the foot, if at all possible. "He's got a pretty sore foot, and he was running on the side [of the foot] yesterday -- trying to stay off the toe -- and that's a little sore, too," Gardenhire said. "He's had it before and it's something he could probably play through if it was a need-to-play situation, but I have other infielders, so try to get him off it today and try to calm him down a little." As for Mauer, the catcher was dealing with some general soreness, and Gardenhire wanted to use the contest to give Mauer's legs a rest. While the backstop offered to be the designated hitter, Gardenhire went with Jim Thome. With both Mauer and Morneau out of the lineup, it marked the first time since May 5, 2006, that the Twins didn't have either one of the M&M Boys in their lineup. Mauer said that he and Morneau talked about the rarity of having a lineup that didn't include one of them in it. "It's not a good thing, and obviously, we both wanted to be out there," Mauer said. "We have to take care of ourselves, too. It's a long year. I don't like seeing [No.] 33 on the bench, and I'm sure he doesn't like seeing me on the bench either." Mauer did pinch-hit in the eighth inning for catcher Drew Butera, and he struck out swinging on a 100-mph fastball from Joel Zumaya.
Pavano aggravates neck in finale
DETROIT -- The starting lineup wasn't the only place where the Twins were battling injuries on Thursday, as starter Carl Pavano pitched with a stiff neck in the finale.Pavano said he aggravated the neck in the fourth or fifth inning, and he had to battle a bit after that. The right-hander said he's had bouts of stiffness in his neck before, including one right before the playoffs last season. Pavano said he's unsure what causes it. "It might have been the pillows that threw me off or it might have been that throwing a baseball is the most unnatural movement in the human body," Pavano said. "That might have something to do with it, too. I'm just trying to find a solution to get rid of it."
One of the rising prospects in the Twins' Minor League system is last year's first-round Draft pick, right-hander Kyle Gibson, and on Thursday, Gibson delivered an absolute gem of an outing for Class A Fort Myers. Gibson pitched a complete-game one-hitter in the Miracle's 2-0 win over Dunedin. Gibson, who needed only 91 pitches to face the minimum 27 batters, struck out six, with his only hit coming on an infield single. ... Orlando Hudson extended his hitting streak to six games on Thursday. He's batting .345 during that span. ... Magglio Ordonez tallied this 2,000th career hit on Thursday. The hit came off Twins starter Carl Pavano in the fourth inning -- a one-out single to left field.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.