NEW YORK -- Hot-hitting outfielder Josh Willingham is one of nine Twins on this year's American League All-Star ballot, which was revealed on Thursday afternoon in Kansas City.
Willingham entered Thursday night's game against the Yankees tied for the AL lead in homers with five, along with a team-leading nine RBIs.
"I try to out there with a simple approach and look for something good to hit," Willingham said. "I've hit a few of them hard, and the ones that I've hit hard have found some holes, so I think that's key.
"I've also pulled all my homers, and generally when you hit the ball hard and you pull, it goes out. So hopefully, if I keep squaring up the ball and getting it into the air, it'll keep going out of the ballpark."
Willingham is joined on the ballot by longtime Twins such as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Denard Span. But it marks the first time that Morneau is listed as a designated hitter.
The online ballot will launch on Friday. Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or using a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 10:59 p.m. CT.
Mauer and Morneau are both four-time All-Stars, while Willingham and Span have never been selected to play in the Midsummer Classic.
Other Twins on the ballot are first baseman Chris Parmelee, second baseman Alexi Casilla, shortstop Jamey Carroll, third baseman Danny Valencia and outfielder Ben Revere, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Saturday. Ryan Doumit, who has seen time in right field and behind the plate, is not on the ballot but can be voted in as a write-in candidate.
The All-Star Game is slated for July 10 at Kauffmann Stadium in Kansas City.
Perkins' return critical to Twins' bullpen
NEW YORK -- Before returning to action with a scoreless eighth inning in the Twins' 7-6 loss to the Yankees on Thursday night, reliever Glen Perkins said his bullpen session on Wednesday went just fine and that he was ready to go despite missing three games with inflammation in his left forearm.
Perkins didn't travel with the team to New York on Sunday, as he stayed back after complaining of tenderness in his left arm related to some tightness in the radial nerve in his upper arm.
Helped by rest and anti-inflammatory medication, however, Perkins said the inflammation went away. He was cleared by team physician Dan Buss to throw a 40-pitch bullpen session early on Wednesday and ended up flying to New York later that day, arriving at the ballpark in the second inning of the Twins' 6-5 win.
Perkins said there was never any sharp pain in his forearm but that it was simply something he needed to take care of after struggling on Sunday, when he allowed three runs without recording an out.
"It wasn't like I threw a pitch and it was like, 'Ouch,'" Perkins said. "It was just something that was nagging. It felt like on Sunday I didn't have the strength to finish a pitch. There was no life. They were belt-high to letters, and that's how you can tell something isn't right. The velocity was there, but not the finish."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was happy Perkins was able to avoid the disabled list, as the left-hander was the club's most reliable reliever last year, posting a 2.48 ERA in 61 2/3 innings.
"Getting Perkins back helps an awful lot," Gardenhire said. "We know he can go out there for the eighth inning."
Blackburn's status will affect Twins' move
NEW YORK -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he expects to make a roster move before the club returns home to Minnesota on Monday for a three-game series against the Red Sox.
Gardenhire said the move depends on the health of right-hander Nick Blackburn, who is slated to throw bullpen sessions on Friday and Sunday in anticipation of his start on Tuesday. Blackburn missed Thursday's start against the Yankees due to stiffness in his right shoulder.
If Blackburn is ready to go, the Twins will bring up another position player, as they currently have 13 pitchers on the roster after recalling right-hander Jason Marquis on Wednesday and designating infielder Luke Hughes for assignment.
"By the end of the weekend, we'll make a decision and do the right thing and get a position player back," Gardenhire said. "What that will be, I don't know. I'm still debating on the third catcher situation."
Gardenhire said he might decide to go with a third catcher because Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit are generally in the lineup at the same time, including on Thursday for Minnesota's series finale against the Yankees, as Mauer was behind the plate and Doumit started in right field.
"I'm still trying to decide our way through that," Gardenhire said. "Like tonight, we have them both playing and I like having both of them in the lineup, so it makes a big difference. So we'll see how we get through the next few days."
Gardenhire also added that no catcher at Triple-A Rochester has the edge to be recalled, as the club currently has three backstops there in Drew Butera, J.R. Towles and Rene Rivera. But Butera is the only one on the 40-man roster, and he leads all three with a .250 batting average in 10 games.