Neshek optioned to Triple-A Rochester
Reliever must work his way to bigs after battling injured finger
OAKLAND -- Right-handed reliever Pat Neshek has been removed from the Twins' injury list and has been optioned to Triple-A Rochester.
Neshek, who battled a sore flexor tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, made an appearance for Class A Fort Myers on Friday. He threw one inning, allowing three earned runs on three hits and two walks.
"He's just like everyone else in the Minor Leagues now," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's got to pitch his way back up. When there's a need, he'll get an opportunity -- if he's the one throwing the ball good."
The 29-year-old missed all of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but broke this year's Spring Training with the big league club.
Neshek made six appearances for the Twins in April before being placed on the 15-day disabled list May 2. Over 4 1/3 innings with Minnesota this year, he allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks while striking out four.
Battling flu, Morneau gets needed day off
OAKLAND -- Justin Morneau finally received his much needed day off in Saturday's 4-3 victory over the A's. Unfortunately, it didn't come on his terms.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau has a stomach virus, but that he could possibly be able to pinch-hit if the ailment allows it. And that's exactly what happened.
Morneau pinch-hit for Brendan Harris in the top of the ninth in a 3-3 game, but was intentionally walked with no one on base. J.J. Hardy pinch-ran for Morneau once he reached first.
Gardenhire said he was already planning on giving Morneau, who has started 53 of his team's 55 games heading into Saturday, a day off this weekend.
Taking over for Morneau at the No. 4 slot in Saturday's order was designated hitter Jim Thome. Versatile infielder Brendan Harris filled in for Morneau at first base.
Hardy, who is fighting a bone bruise in his left wrist, was also scratched Saturday before entering late.
Gardenhire inserted second baseman Matt Tolbert into Hardy's slot as the No. 2 hitter. Nick Punto, who was originally penciled in as Saturday's second baseman, will hit ninth at shortstop.
Regular second baseman Orlando Hudson, meanwhile, made another step in his recovery Saturday, as he took cuts with his teammates during batting practice.
Gardenhire said Hudson, who's suffering from a sore left wrist, can hit better as a righty than a lefty at this point.
Asked about the condition of his wrist, Hudson replied, "I'm here. I'm fine."
Gardy reflects on former reliever Breslow
OAKLAND -- When A's lefty reliever Craig Breslow stormed his way through five outs Friday, striking out four Twins players in the process, he got a bit of redemption against his old club.
Minnesota acquired Breslow midway through the 2008 season, and he made 42 appearances with a 1.63 ERA. But the Twins placed Breslow on waivers May 20, 2009, before he was promptly picked up by the A's -- with whom he flourished to close out the season.
At the time of his release, Breslow was 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA in 17 appearances. Once he joined Oakland, Breslow appeared in 60 games with a 2.60 ERA.
On Friday, Breslow fanned Jim Thome, Drew Butera, Denard Span and J.J. Hardy in succession -- all swinging.
"You like to see him having success," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Although not like that against us. But he's a real good guy, classy kid."
Gardenhire said Breslow made quite the impression during his time in Minnesota. Oakland manager Bob Geren said the A's were excited to claim Breslow off waivers.
"He's been outstanding ever since we got him," Geren said. "He's guy who can get lefties out, but he also has success against right-handers. ... He's a real class guy, obviously real intelligent."
This season, Breslow is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 25 appearances. Breslow graduated from Yale in 2002 with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry.
"I liked him a lot," Gardenhire said. "I thought he did a super job when he was over here with us. We just had to make a change at the time, and he was the odd man out."
At the time, Breslow was moved to make room for starter Anthony Swarzak, who made a start in place of an injured Glen Perkins.
With Saturday's strong effort, Francisco Liriano is now 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his past three starts. In his previous three before that, Liriano went 0-3 with a 7.02 ERA. ... Brendan Harris went 0-for-3 Saturday and is now hitless in his past 20 at-bats. ... Denard Span went 0-for-5 Saturday and is now hitless in his past 21 at-bats. ... Alex Burnett picked up his first Major League win on Saturday, though he recorded just one out in the eighth inning.
Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.