Notes: Cuddyer not in lineup
Outfielder a late scratch to rest bruised back
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Twins had jokes about Michael Cuddyer's baserunning spill Tuesday night, only because he wasn't seriously injured. Early on Wednesday, the team was still confident about the right fielder's return, and placed him in the lineup. It appears the Twins decided to err on the side of caution, though, as Cuddyer was a late scratch.
Cuddyer landed on his helmet during his sixth-inning tumble, and bruised his back in the process. He likened the pain to being hit by a pitch, and said he would play in Wednesday's game, but that he wasn't sure how sore he'd be after a night's rest.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire spoke to Cuddyer when he arrived at the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, and reported that Cuddyer was a bit sore, but received treatment in the training room followed by an early batting practice. Everything checked out OK, Gardenhire said, so Cuddyer would play.
But it was announced just more than an hour before the scheduled first pitch that Cuddyer would rest the bruised back. Jason Kubel took his place in the lineup.
Iron men: Entering Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay, Cuddyer and Justin Morneau were the lone Twins to have played in all 26 games this season. Both were to be in the lineup Wednesday as well, although Cuddyer was later scratched.
It's a trend managers like Gardenhire like to see: Last year, Cuddyer missed just 12 games and Morneau five. With 2006 batting averages of .284 and .321, respectively, and 239 RBIs between them, Gardenhire said it's nice to have consistency.
It's not hard to see why.
"[Morneau] likes to play, he doesn't even like to come out of a game when we're going long," Gardenhire said. "You want them to be out there, but I told them both that when they get a little arm weary, they have to let me know that, too, so we can protect you and everybody else involved.
"This time of the year we have days off, and I imagine they'll be strong."
Lineup shuffle: Jason Tyner was in the lineup for the second day as opposed to Jason Kubel, who was added later as a result of Cuddyer's injury. Gardenhire went with Tyner partly because he's effective in hitting the changeup/cutters that Rays starter Jae Seo is known for throwing. Gardenhire also needed to make room for Jeff Cirillo, who came off of the disabled list Tuesday.
There's also a fair amount of history between Tyner and Tampa Bay, as the 30-year-old came up through the Rays' organization, and played for them for parts of four seasons (2000-03).
"It's nothing Kubel's done," Gardenhire said. "It's just a roll of the dice to get Cirillo an at-bat, and get Tyner in there because he's so familiar with this ball park."
Injured reserves: Lew Ford is four games into his extended Spring Training rehab and a bit behind schedule concerning his return to playing form after March surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Gardenhire said it was to be expected because of limited post-surgery mobility, and added the team would wait until Ford played about 10 games before he was re-evaluated.
"He's got plenty of time," Gardenhire said.
Rondell White is "a little frustrated" with his torn right calf muscle, said Gardenhire, who noted White's teammate and friend Torii Hunter had not been able to reach White via cell phone. White's schedule remains the same. He's nearly finished with his 10-day rest at home, and will soon pack up to head to Florida, where he'll join Class A Fort Myers to begin his rehab assignment.
Down on the farm: With a 7-2 win Tuesday, Triple-A Rochester moved to 14-4, its best start since 1958. Matt Tolbert helped the cause with three hits, including a triple. ... Double-A New Britain had a season-high 17 hits in a 12-4 win over Binghamton on Tuesday. Rashad Eldridge and Brian Buscher each had four hits in the contest. ... A four-run eighth inning by the host Threshers doomed Class A Fort Myers, which was swept on Tuesday with a 6-4 loss.
Twins tidbits: Minnesota has an off-day Monday, but the pitching rotation will not change. ... Through Tuesday, the Twins lead the American League in batting average (.277) and fielding percentage (.989), and are fourth in team ERA (3.87). ... Luis Castillo's 48 infield hits ranks second in the Majors behind the Dodgers' Juan Pierre (50). Castillo also has not committed an error in his last 521 chances, a time period spanning 114 games and dating back to May 29, 2006. ... Minnesota is 12-0 when leading after seven innings this season, and 9-3 when it scores first.
Coming up: Minnesota wraps up its three-game series against Tampa Bay with a 6:05 p.m. CT finale on Thursday. The Twins send right-hander Ramon Ortiz (3-1, 2.57 ERA) to the mound, where he'll face off against Rays righty James Shields (2-0, 3.75 ERA).
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.