BOS@MIN: Santana covers ground to make a basket catch

SAN DIEGO -- Shortstop Danny Santana remains one of the Twins' top prospects, so Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is trying to find him playing time despite the fact that starting shortstop Eduardo Escobar has been swinging a hot bat this month.

Santana, ranked as the club's No. 10 prospect by MLB.com, got the start against the Padres on Wednesday night. It was just the third start at shortstop for Santana dating back to May 11.

"He's fine," Gardenhire said. "When you have this many days off, you just want to try to mix people in and try to give them something. We don't want that kid up here on the bench sitting."

Santana hasn't been helped by the fact the Twins have had several off-days recently, including on Monday, and another one coming up Thursday. But Gardenhire said he's trying to make sure Santana is getting enough playing time so that it doesn't hinder the 23-year-old's development.

"I don't think we're too worried about that right now as long as he's still getting playing time," Gardenhire said. "If he was sitting on the bench for weeks not playing, that would be ridiculous. But he's getting playing time, and he's going to get playing time."

Gardenhire, though, said Escobar will remain his starting shortstop, as Escobar is hitting .337/.362/.506 with a homer and 12 doubles in 31 games this season.

"He's our starting shortstop," Gardenhire said. "We'll mix in the other guys. And I have no problem with that whatsoever."

Was Suzuki's inside-the-parker just a homer?

MIN@SD: Suzuki discusses his inside-the-park home run

SAN DIEGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had more time to reflect on Kurt Suzuki's unusual inside-the-park homer in Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Padres, and said he believes the ball cleared the left-field wall for a traditional homer.

Suzuki hit a deep drive to left field that appeared to go over the fence and back onto the playing field but it was never ruled a homer by the umpires on the field, and Suzuki kept running around the bases for an inside-the-park homer.

Gardenhire said he believed the ball cleared the fence but didn't want to challenge the ruling for fear it could've been ruled fan interference and changed to a double. So he left it as an inside-the-park home run because it counts the same for Suzuki.

"Suzuki can run but that wasn't really an inside-the-park home run," Gardenhire said. "That was an over-the-fence home run that hit a fan and everybody quit playing but him. So call it what you want. I just didn't want to challenge it because I didn't want it ruled as fan interference."

Suzuki was fine with the decision not to challenge the play, as it gave him his first career inside-the-park home run at any level.

"It's cooler to have an inside-the-parker," Suzuki said with a laugh.

It also officially went down as the first inside-the-park homer for the Twins since Joe Mauer did it against the Angels at the Metrodome since July 21, 2007. Suzuki joked it was cool to be a part of that club with Mauer, who was also a catcher when he hit his.

"Me and Joe were talking about it," Suzuki said. "Athletes out there, you know."

Worth noting

• Outfielder Sam Fuld, who has been on the 7-day concussion disabled list since May 8, still has yet to begin baseball activities, according to assistant general manager Rob Antony. Fuld has progressed to doing cardio but will need to remain symptom-free for a few more days before he starts baseball activities.

• Left fielder Josh Willingham, who is on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7 with a small fracture in his left wrist, went 0-for-4 at the plate in his fifth rehab game with Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday. He's hitting just .111 (2-for-18) with a double and an RBI so far on his rehab assignment. Antony said Willingham will have to find his timing at the plate and be more productive before he's activated from the DL.

• Right-hander Mike Pelfrey, on the 15-day disabled list since May 2 with a strained groin, is scheduled to make his second rehab start with Triple-A Rochester on Friday. His first rehab outing went well, as he gave up just one run on five hits and a walk over five innings Friday.

The Red Wings are off Wednesday, and right-hander Alex Meyer is scheduled to start Thursday before Pelfrey gets the nod on Friday. Pelfrey is expected to make a few more rehab starts before rejoining the rotation, as the Twins want to make sure he's healthy and back on track before returning.