Notes: White returns to Twins lineup
Left fielder plays for the first time since April 7
TORONTO -- The long awaited return of Rondell White finally came on Monday.
White, who started the season as Minnesota' left fielder, but has been out since April 7 with a right calf injury, was activated from the 15-day disabled list in time for the Twins series opener against the Blue Jays. It's been a long time coming, but White's back and says it feels like he's getting a fresh start to the season.
"It's like Opening Day in July," White said. "I'm going to go out and relax. Not try and do too much, just do what I can. You just have to take it as it comes."
Although White was welcomed back with open arms, the Twins aren't exactly sure what to expect from their veteran slugger. White wasn't scheduled to return until he was healthy enough to resume his spot in left, but when right fielder Michael Cuddyer went down with a sprained right thumb Minnesota decided to activate White earlier than expected.
For now, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says Minnesota will just try to get as much out of White as it can.
"He's not 100 percent," Gardenhire said. "His legs aren't exactly where he needs them to be -- to go out and do all the running. But he's here and we're going to play him."
White will be used exclusively as the team's designated hitter, at least for the time being. Gardenhire doesn't expect him to be very aggressive on the basepaths and White will be removed from the game in late innings.
It's not an ideal situation because White's best numbers have historically come when he plays the field. Last season White hit just .194 with two home runs and 18 RBIs in 196 at-bats as a DH, compared to hitting .328 with five home runs and 19 RBIs in 134 at-bats while playing left field. But for now, the Twins want to use him any way possible.
"We'll go day-to-day with it and use him as we can," Gardenhire said. "He might get two at-bats tonight and not feel great and I take him out. It could happen. But we'll start out and see how he does the first day."
It's hard to know how effective White will upon his return. On Sunday, he went 3-for-4 with a double and run scored for the Twins rookie Gulf Coast League team. But he hasn't faced Major League pitching in more than three months and it's almost impossible to predict how quickly he'll be able to adjust.
"If he hadn't been swinging for all this time I'd be really concerned," Gardenhire said. "But he's been swinging. The only way to see if you're ready to face Major League pitching again is to face ML pitching. You can't send him to Triple-A and face ML pitching. You can only send him to the Major Leagues."
White's presence in the Twins lineup will be a much needed addition to the club. So far this season, Minnesota's designated hitter position ranks last in the American League in batting average (.252), home runs (3) and 11th in RBIs (38). White says he followed the numbers every day in the media and couldn't help but think things might have been different if he had been around.
"Especially when you see games where we lose 1-0 against a lefty," White said. "I thought I could help out. It's been tough."
The Twins hoped to have White back earlier this season but his progress was slowed because of a medical condition in his legs.
"I've got an imbalance in my leg," White said. "My right thigh is twice as big as my left thigh. Everything catches up. You'd go and then my calves would hurt, my hamstrings would hurt and you start overcompensating."
He's back now, though, and the timing couldn't be better as Minnesota is scheduled to take on division-rival Cleveland later this week.
Torii's troubles: Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter had an unwelcome surprise when he woke up in his Toronto hotel room on Monday morning. Hunter's eyes were bright red, watering and he had a severe headache. He said he wasn't sure if it was a case of allergies or just a case of the flu. It wasn't immediately known on Monday if he would be available to play but he did end up taking the field and struck out looking in his first at-bat.
Castillo's trip to Canada: Minnesota second baseman Luis Castillo was in the lineup for Monday night's game against the Blue Jays. Castillo, a native of the Dominican Republic, forgot his passport in Miami, and, on Sunday there were concerns he might not be able to get it in time to make the team's flight.
"He got it," Gardenhire said. "We were talking about it after the game. He said he got it, he's good to go, and could fly. So, he's here."
Minor matters: Right-hander Matthew Fox picked up his fifth win of the season for Class A Beloit on Sunday afternoon. The 24-year-old didn't allow a run while striking out three over six innings of work. He is now 5-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 games this season. ... Class A Fort Myers outfielder Erik Lis went 3-for-4 with double and three RBIs in a 13-4 romp over Sarasota. The 23-year-old is hitting .262 eight home runs and 57 RBIs this season.
Injury update: Left-hander Glenn Perkins traveled to Fort Myers on Monday to begin a throwing program. Perkins has been out since May 22 with left shoulder discomfort. He is 0-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 games this season.
Did you know? Entering Monday's game against Toronto, Twins ace Johan Santana has pitched at least five innings in 111 consecutive starts. The last time Santana was unable to go at least five frames came on May 23, 2004, against the White Sox. He is one more five-inning outing away from tying Hall of Famer Bob Gibson for the third longest streak in baseball history. Boston's Curt Schilling (147) and David Cone (145) rank one-two.
Coming up: Scott Baker (4-3, 5.32 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for Minnesota when the Twins take on the Blue Jays at 6:07 p.m. CT on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. Toronto will counter with right-hander Dustin McGowan (6-5, 4.84).
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.