Thome understands injury risk of celebrations
Slugger leads all active players with 11 walk-off home runs
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Thome has been a part of his fair share of walk-off home run celebrations. And fortunately for Thome, he's never had to suffer an injury during postgame festivities like Angels slugger Kendry Morales, who fractured his left ankle Saturday while celebrating a walk-off grand slam against the Mariners.But Thome, whose 11 walk-off home runs are the most of any active player in baseball, certainly feels for Morales following such a freak injury. "It's unfortunate," Thome said. "You never want to have an injury because of that. I don't know everything that actually happened. But what a good player, and anytime that happens, you never like it -- that's for sure." Thome sits in a tie with Tony Perez for sixth on the all-time list for walk-off homers. His 11 jacks are just one shy of the all-time lead of 12 -- achieved by Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth. The veteran slugger has certainly experienced his share of aggressive celebrations at home plate. Still, Thome said that when he's rounding the bases and headed for home, he's not worrying about what could go wrong when he's in the fray with his teammates. "The only thing that you're thinking about is celebrating," Thome said. "You're having fun with your teammates. You've won a ballgame and there's a lot of excitement. You play a game to ultimately win in the end, and when your teammates are there, it's a lot of fun. I don't think [getting injured] goes through your mind. You're more focused on getting off the field, and then celebrating with your teammates inside." The Twins endured a celebration injury of their own when second baseman Denny Hocking had his hand broken after catching the final out in the clinching game of the 2002 American League Division Series at Oakland. A teammate -- believed to be Jacque Jones -- stepped on Hocking's right middle finger, and Hocking missed the entire ALCS when the Twins fell to the Angels. But now, with Morales' freak injury in the spotlight, the question has been raised as to whether players will change the way they celebrate at home plate in the future. "I don't tell them what to do, they go out and jump around, and it was an unfortunate accident," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Whether he landed on someone's foot or as Denny Hocking once said, someone took him out on purpose, I doubt it.
"But I'd imagine that might be in the players' minds a little bit now. Rather than high jump into home plate, they might walk in. Let's just hope we see lots of them."
Third basemen doing job with glove, not bat
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins haven't exactly been getting a lot of offense from third base over the past couple of weeks.
Nick Punto has batted just .083 over his past 10 games and Brendan Harris is hitting .080 over his past nine. Punto got the starting nod in Sunday's finale against the Rangers, and he responded by posting two hits and an RBI in his first two at-bats.
But manager Ron Gardenhire is more focused on the strong defense that his players have been providing at the position.Entering Sunday, the Twins had yet to have an error recorded in 135 total chances by their third basemen this season. And while the batting average has been low for a few of his options recently, Gardenhire said that they've found other ways to contribute. "Nicky's been on the bases," Gardenhire said. "I think he's drawn walks, he can bunt and do a lot of different things. When you have a middle infield like J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson, then you can afford to have it where you don't have as much production out of third base. "It's not always just the offensive stuff. It's the defensive stuff as well, which we value pretty highly around here."
Topping Texas assures winning mark in May
MINNEAPOLIS -- A victory over the Rangers on Sunday night assured the Twins of a winning record in May and gave them winning records in each of the first two months of the season for the first time since 2005.It's a hotter start for a Twins team that's often had to dig itself out of an early hole in recent years. And considering that Minnesota has played in a 163rd game for the American League Central title in each of the past two years, they appreciate having gotten off to a better start this season. "This year we kind of talked about it, with [Justin Morneau] and guys like, that to go through a different Spring Training to prepare them for the first of the year, rather than beating themselves up during Spring Training," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "You hope you get off to a good start. It doesn't always work out that way. I think we've learned a little bit over the years about what it takes, but as we've talked about also, we have the grind of the long season, and you want to be playing your best at the end."
Double-A New Britain outfielder Ben Revere was named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week. Revere, 22, batted .394 in eight games for the Rock Cats. ... Infielder Miguel Angel Sano homered on the first pitch he saw in his first game for the Twins' Dominican Summer League team. Sano, who played third base, went 2-for-4 with the homer and a triple. The 17-year-old has been in his native Dominican Republic since Spring Training ended in Fort Myers, Fla., to allow him to adjust and develop his game while playing every day at home.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.