MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau planned on taking another big step in his recovery process from a concussion on Sunday, when he was scheduled to take batting practice, but he opted out of the drill at the last minute.Manager Ron Gardenhire ensured that there was no setback in how Morneau was feeling, but rather he simply decided to hold off the batting practice until the Twins leave for Tampa Bay this week. "He decided to go ahead and hit in the cage and do some running and throwing out on the field," Gardenhire said. "He said he'd rather just wait until we're gone to hit on the field." Morneau's decision to forego BP came in part because of the Family Day that was scheduled at Target Field prior to Sunday's 4-0 win over the Mariners. With his teammates and their families planning on being present on the field that afternoon, Gardenhire said Morneau felt there would be too many people there and he'd rather just wait for a quieter atmosphere. "I think that's a little less people around and he wants to ease into it," Gardenhire said. "With Family Day and all the family out there, he didn't want to be on center stage. But he got his work in and he feels good." Morneau remained in the dugout and watched the series finale with his teammates. It was the first time Morneau was in the dugout since taking an accidental knee to the head during a slide into second base in a game in Toronto on July 7. For the past three weeks, he's been going through his workout and then returning home to watch the game on TV. "That's kind of what you hope for," Gardenhire said. "It's step by step and I think he's progressing really well."
Morneau will stay in Minneapolis to continue his workouts when the Twins depart on their 11-day road trip. While he's continued to make slow progress in his recovery, a return date is still unknown.
Recovery processes vary for injured Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- With several Twins players out of the lineup due to various injuries, their steps to recovery are varied. But all are progressing.Second baseman Orlando Hudson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 25, has taken steps to return to the field after straining his right oblique muscle. He has taken swings in the batting cage right-handed and is scheduled to swing from the other side of the plate on Monday. Hudson will travel with the team to Tampa Bay and continue his recovery process on the road. Matt Tolbert, however, will remain in Minneapolis as he continues to nurse a right middle finger contusion. His stint on the 15-day DL is retroactive to July 1, and his recovery has been a slow process. Despite Tolbert still feeling pain and being unable to throw, manager Ron Gardenhire said expects the infielder to make some steps in the next few days. "We're thinking of having him go on a rehab assignment because he's moving around well enough," Gardenhire said. "He's just going to have to work through this thing, but let's see a doctor first to make sure there's nothing we're missing before we do that." Infielder Nick Punto will continue therapy on his strained left hamstring in Minneapolis and right-hander Clay Condrey will continue to do gentle range of motion exercises with the team trainers.
Strong July finds Twins back on winning track
MINNEAPOLS -- After putting up their first losing month of the season in June, the Twins turned things around in July and finished with a record of 15-11.The Twins improved in nearly every offensive category and led the Major Leagues with a .311 batting average in July, improving from .267 over the previous month. The Twins also had a season high of 289 hits, 27 home runs and 148 runs scored. As strong as the bats were, manager Ron Gardenhire said the real story of the improvement came from the pitching staff. After a dreadful June where the pitchers combined for a 4.22 ERA -- giving up a season-high 112 earned runs on 242 hits -- they were able to bring their numbers down a touch in July. Over the past 31 days, the pitchers had an ERA of 4.19, giving up 107 earned runs off 249 hits. They also combined for 158 strikeouts. "Pitching is the key," Gardenhire said. "Pitching sets the tone and gets everything going on the right foot. Your offense swinging the bat probably helps them a bit and takes the pressure off. We're getting some runs early for them and they're going deeper into games. Their confidence is soaring right now, which is good. That all tends to go hand in hand." Two individuals had remarkable months. Left fielder Delmon Young batted .436 -- the second-best average in the big leagues -- with six home runs, 12 doubles and 30 RBIs in July. His 46 hits were the most in baseball, and were the most in the Twins organization in July since Lyman Bostock had 46 in 1977. Young's 19 extra-base hits in July was just under Chuck Knoblauch's record of 20, which he set in 1996. And Young's 30 RBIs in July was just one shy of Kent Hrbek's July record of 31, set in '84. Infielder Danny Valencia's average of .453 (24-for-53) in July was the highest in all of baseball.
Shuffled lineup gives Butera, Repko action
MINNEAPOLIS -- After using the same lineup in the first two games of the three-game series against the Mariners, the Twins changed things up a bit for Sunday's finale.Manager Ron Gardenhire opted to put Jason Repko in the outfield and slide Jason Kubel into Jim Thome's usual spot at designated hitter. "He's swinging good, playing defense fantastically," Gardenhire said of Repko, who entered the game with a .324 batting average on the season. "He gives me that option, and you're getting a quality player out there that's been doing well, so that's fun. That's what we talk about when we say being able to use your whole bench. That makes it pretty easy now; he's been playing really well." Drew Butera was penciled in at catcher as Joe Mauer received a cortisone shot in his arm to relieve some tendinitis after Saturday's 4-0 victory. Gardenhire guessed that Butera would catch for a day or so to allow the soreness to go away in Mauer's arm. "He said initially when he got the shot that everything felt great, but he's a little sore this morning," Gardenhire said. "We're going to talk to the doctors and they'll let me know. Definitely nothing today, but it's a possibility as to whether he can DH tomorrow -- no throwing, but maybe DH. We don't know."
The Tampa Bay Rays opted to call up right-hander Jeremy Hellickson to make his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Twins. With that roster move, the starting rotation was pushed back a day, meaning the Twins will no longer face former teammate Matt Garza on Thursday. Hellickson will go up against arguably the Twins' hottest pitcher, Carl Pavano. ... Sunday marked Family Day at Target Field. The Twins players were able to bring their families to the ballpark to take pictures on the field and have the kids partake in some batting practice. Joe Nathan pitched for the kids despite having season-ending Tommy John surgery at the end of March. ... The Twins named Beloit infielder James Beresford as the Minor League Player of the Week for July 24-30. In five games with the Snappers, Beresford hit .400 with three doubles, five RBIs and three stolen bases.
Jocelyn Syrstad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.