MINNEAPOLIS -- For the majority of the first half of the season, the Twins were looking down at the rest of the American League Central. However, the tables have turned -- the White Sox took over the coveted position at the top.
After going 25-5 in their past 30 games, the White Sox jumped 13 games in the standings. Their winning surge is being praised by many, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire knew it was bound to come eventually."It was a matter of time," Gardenhire said. "They went out and got it done and they're doing that and that's why they're winning." Gardenhire said he knew from the beginning of the season that the White Sox had the pitching and defense to make things happen. With the sudden success of the team, it is no surprise to Gardenhire that this year's division race once again seems like it will go down to the wire. With Thursday marking the first game of a four-game series at Target Field, Gardenhire admitted his team has its work cut out. "It's about making as little mistakes as you can, and not giving up the extra bases, and not putting people on base and making the plays you're supposed to make," he said. "When we get doing all those little things and playing the game our way, we're fine." Minnesota -- which sits 3 1/2 games behind Chicago entering Thursday's action -- will look to gain some ground in the division after struggling just before the All Star break. However, with the White Sox in town, that's going to be easier said than done. "They're playing great baseball and we're coming back off a nice little break here, and it ought to be a lot of fun," Gardenhire said. "It's always good competition in our division, and we're behind them now, so see what happens."
Injury concerns vary on rehabbing players
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are thankful the first half of the season -- a session plagued with injuries -- is over, and they are optimistic to see how the second half plays out.There are still several Twins players with injury concerns right now, and the organization has been tracking their progress for some time now. Infielder Alexi Casilla, nursing bone spurs in his right elbow, moved up to Double-A. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Casilla has roughly seven to eight days left on his 20-day rehab stint, and he should be called back up to the roster if everything goes well in that span. The updates on right-handed reliever Clay Condrey weren't as optimistic. Condrey will see another doctor in New York this week as he recovers from a right elbow injury. Once he finishes that evaluation, the pitcher will return to Minnesota to speak with the team doctors and coaches. Gardenhire said Condrey's injury "isn't looking good." It is still unclear as to when the right-hander would return to the lineup. Brian Duensing was also unexpected to pitch in Thursday's series opener against the White Sox with a case of the flu. Coaches were expected to communicate with Duensing regularly to see when he'd be able to return to the mound.
No issue betweeen Thome, Pierzynski
MINNEAPOLIS -- A.J. Pierzynski and Jim Thome, two friends and former teammates, appeared to exchange words in the third inning after the White Sox catcher tossed part of his shattered bat toward the Twins dugout.
Pierzynski battled Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey through a 12-pitch at-bat with Carlos Quentin on first base and two outs, only to have it end on a popup to shortstop J.J. Hardy. Pierzynski slammed his bat in frustration, causing the splinter, and flipped part of it away. Thome tossed the piece back toward Pierzynski, and the two talked when Thome came to home plate in the bottom of the third.
Much ado about nothing, according to both sides.
"That's kind of irrelevant to the game," Thome said. "We've got to battle. We can't worry about all of that."
"We were just talking," Pierzynski said. "Nothing. ... Nothing."
Jocelyn Syrstad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.