Notes: Bonser back in the big leagues
Twins find outfield tandem; Morneau looks for 100-RBI mark
DETROIT -- It's Boof time again for the Twins.As expected, the Twins announced Wednesday that they will place their ailing rookie All-Star Francisco Liriano on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday. In their corresponding move to fill the start on Saturday left open by Liriano's absence, the club recalled right-hander Boof Bonser from Triple-A Rochester. Though it was clear that the Twins would put Liriano on the DL, there had been questions as to whether Bonser or fellow right-hander Scott Baker would get the nod in the spot. Both Bonser and Baker have struggled in the rotation this season, with different problems. Twins general manager Terry Ryan has been in Rochester over the past week and was able to talk with the staff in Rochester and witness the progress of both pitchers. "All the recommendations down there were for Bonser," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He has a little bit better command of his pitches and has more pitches to offer right now."
The decision came down to the fact that Bonser appears to have an out pitch while Baker is still struggling a bit to get all of his pitches together."Baker's up with his fastball and doesn't have his good breaking ball," Gardenhire said. "Bonser has his curveball as an out pitch, along with a decent changeup. He'll put hitters away a little better than [Baker], in theory." Bonser got an opportunity to show he could do that when he filled in during Liriano's last skipped start on Aug. 2 against the Rangers. He had some trouble, allowing four runs on six hits over just four innings. In eight starts with the club this season, Bonser is 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA. The Twins hope Bonser will work ahead in the count more in his next start. Bonser has often gotten behind hitters and then struggled to find the plate when needed. Still, Gardenhire points to Bonser's first Major League outing at Milwaukee earlier in the year, when he held the Brewers to one run on five hits over six innings, showing he can deliver in big situations. "We need these guys to step up when they come up here," Gardenhire said. "All we want Bonser to do is keep the ball down in the zone and use all his pitches. And Bons can do that, we saw him do that in Milwaukee." Outfield cornered: For much of the year, the Twins outfield has been a bit of a mix-and-match scenario as injuries have kept the club from having a consistent three-player set. Now, though, it appears that the Twins have finally found a solid fit -- at least for the time being. Over the past few games, the outfield has consisted of the same three players with Michael Cuddyer in right, Torii Hunter in center and Jason Tyner in left. The addition of Tyner to solidify the third outfield spot has given Gardenhire something to smile about. Offensively, Tyner has added a burst of speed that the Twins lacked at the beginning of the year. With Tyner in the eighth spot and shortstop Jason Bartlett in the ninth hole, the bottom of the Twins order now has what Rochester used as its tablesetters for most of the year. "I like the lineup now, with the four leadoff guys as I call them, two at the top and two at the bottom," Gardenhire said. "You've got your speed, top and bottom, and the guys in the middle can drive runs in. It makes for entertainment when those four guys get up in a row and it's bang, bang, bang, bang." With his throw from left field to catch Magglio Ordonez at home in the Twins' 4-2 win on Tuesday night, Tyner proved he also has a capable arm. With the bases loaded and no outs, the timely throw by Tyner keyed a huge double play that got the club out of the inning unscathed. The 29-year-old's arm strength has been questioned in the past, and though he admits he has to work on a few things, like charging in on grounders and getting rid of the ball quickly, he feels his arm has gotten a bit of a bad rap. "I think I throw better than people think I can," Tyner said with a laugh. "But if you're not on target, then it really doesn't matter if you threw it in there at 80 [mph] because you didn't get anybody out." Higher mark: Justin Morneau sits just one home run away from 30 this season, and there's been buzz about the significance of that mark for the organization. But for Morneau, reaching a different plateau is even more important, personally -- that of 100 RBIs. Sitting at 99 RBIs heading into the game on Wednesday night, Morneau was tied for second in the American League. He trailed only Boston's David Ortiz, who had 110 RBIs. "You can hit 30 solo home runs and have just 30 RBIs," Morneau said. "But 100 RBIs means you've done something with guys on base, and it means that I've done something to help this team rather than just blast balls over the fence." If Morneau were to reach 100 RBIs, he would become just the 10th different Canadian-born player to record at least 100 RBIs in a single season. If Morneau were to deliver his 30th home run, it would make him just the fourth Canadian to reach that mark, as well. Down on the farm: Dave Gassner impressed in his first start at Triple-A Rochester, allowing just one hit over five innings in the club's 1-0 victory over Pawtucket on Tuesday night. Garrett Jones drove in the lone run for the Red Wings as part of a 2-for-4 night at the plate. ... Kevin Slowey gave up four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings, but Double-A New Britain still managed to pull off a 6-5 win over Erie. Trent Oeltjen was a perfect 3-for-3 with one run scored and Doug Deeds drove in two runs for the Rock Cats. ... Brock Peterson hit a three-run blast for his 15th homer of the year, but Class A Fort Myers still lost, 9-7, to Vero Beach. Colby Miller allowed four earned runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Coming up: The Twins head home for a 10-game homestand that starts on Thursday night with a four-game series against the Blue Jays. Right-hander Carlos Silva (8-9, 6.37 ERA) will get the start for Minnesota as he faces Toronto left-hander Ted Lilly (9-10, 4.20 ERA) in the 7:10 p.m. CT start.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.