KANSAS CITY -- Twins infielder Nick Punto left Wednesday's 6-4 victory over the Royals in the eighth inning with what the team is hoping is just a left hamstring cramp.Punto bunted for a base hit, but when he lunged for first base, he appeared to do something to his left hamstring. He bent over and tried to walk off the injury. After being examined by assistant trainer Dave Preumer, Punto walked off the field on his own accord as he was replaced by pinch-runner J.J. Hardy. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Punto both said the hope is that it was just a cramp. Punto has strained the hamstring before, and he said the pain was nothing like those previous injuries. "I definitely didn't do it bad if I did it at all," Punto said when asked if he might have pulled his hamstring. Punto will be re-evaluated at Target Field during Thursday's day off and get treatment. The club said it'll be able to tell at that time if it's something more than just a cramp.
Valencia befuddled by his great start
KANSAS CITY -- Danny Valencia can't explain it.
The 25-year-old third baseman doesn't know why he's been virtually impossible to get out in Kansas City. On the series, Valencia is 8-for-9 with seven RBIs. With his second consecutive four-hit attack Tuesday night, Valencia became the first rookie in Twins history to have back-to-back four-hit games.
"This is rare," he said of his streak. "It's definitely rare. It's obviously great to have it, but it's something that will probably never come again. I've been fortunate, so I'm just really happy with the way things have been going."
Valencia was recalled on June 3 from Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .292 with 15 doubles and 24 RBIs in 47 games. In his last four games for the Twins, Valencia is 14-for-19 (.737) with eight RBIs.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire points to Valencia's hard work outside the lines as the reason for his recent success.
"He's been working really hard, watching, paying attention, sitting on the bench, working with [hitting coach Joe] Vavra in the cage," Gardenhire said. "As we talked about, he's balancing his swing. He's using the whole field, he's driving it the other way.
"The kid can hit. He's been one of our top prospects coming up for a long time. He struggled this year power-wise, but he's hit the ball."
Twins picking up slack for injured Morneau
KANSAS CITY -- Just as they did last year, the Twins are filling in the gaps for an injured Justin Morneau.
As Morneau is sidelined on the 15-day disabled list, the Twins have had no problem garnering offensive production without one of their top run producers.
"We did it last year in September," outfielder Delmon Young said. "We know that we have to pick everyone up as a collective whole because we're missing one of the best bats in baseball."
Young has pitched in some help of his own, collecting two more hits and an RBI on Tuesday night, bringing his season average to .330 with 76 RBIs. Young brought a seven-game hitting streak into Wednesday's game, and over that streak, he is batting .531 (17-for-32).
"We're having quality at-bats," Young said. "Everyone is taking advantage of it -- getting ahead in the count and getting a pitch they can handle. It's good when one through nine is going up there and getting a pitch they can handle and not missing."
Twins eyeing pitching help at Deadline
KANSAS CITY -- With the non-waiver Trade Deadline less than four days away, the Twins could be looking for a few pieces to take them over the top in the American League Central.
The most likely move for the Twins will be on the mound. Rumors indicate the Twins have interest in Cubs starter Ted Lilly and Nationals closer Matt Capps.
Even with the loss of power slugger Justin Morneau, it is unlikely the Twins will look for any offensive firepower. Since Morneau went to the 15-day disabled list with a concussion, the Twins' offense has more than backed him up, garnering 19 hits or more in their past three games.
Although Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said his lineup is already difficult enough to fill out, you can never have enough bats.
"You want more and more," Gardenhire said. "You can never have enough production and you hope to have to find spots for guys. Right now, the lineups are hard to fill out because we got a lot of guys playing good baseball."
Gardenhire impressed with Hardy's progress
KANSAS CITY -- Wednesday was just a day off for J.J. Hardy, but manager Ron Gardenhire likes what he's seen from his shortstop.
Hardy was acquired from the Brewers in a trade this past offseason and since coming back from a wrist injury that cost him 32 games, Gardenhire is happy with his progress.
"He's kind of been up and down, he's still fighting it," Gardenhire said. "If you talk to him, he's still trying to find a swing that he's real consistent with in his approach. Like [Tuesday], he hit a home run and he's getting some hits. He's working really, really hard at it."
Because Hardy played in the National League last year, the Twins didn't see much of him, but now that he is one of their own, they've seen just what he can do on the field.
"We knew he could catch all the balls at him and everything," Gardenhire said. "I think when you only play against a team six times a year like we did with him, and we missed him last year altogether pretty much, you watch a guy from afar, and say, 'This guy looks pretty good.' When you finally get him on your side and watch him every day, that's when you find out what a guy can really do. He can play."
Twins hosting charity event Thursday
KANSAS CITY -- Second baseman Orlando Hudson has made it a priority throughout his career to give back to his community and that now includes the Twin Cities.Hudson and Twins center fielder Denard Span have teamed up to host the Twins & Pins Charity Bowling Classic this Thursday at 7 p.m. CT at the Brunswick Zone XL in Brooklyn Park, Minn. The proceeds from the event will benefit Hudson's C.A.T.C.H. Foundation (Curing Autism Through Change and Hope), the Autism Society of Minnesota and the Friends of St. Paul Baseball. Autism is an illness that's close to Hudson's heart. One of his cousins was born with the lifelong development disorder, but Hudson has been involved with helping autistic kids since he was in junior high and high school in his home state of South Carolina. "I love those kids and they often get pushed to the side," Hudson said. Hudson's foundation, which was founded in January 2008, has tried to help autistic children enjoy a normal life by providing proper therapy, education and extracurricular activities. Thanks to the foundation, Hudson has been able to send autistic children on field trips to see Christmas shows, visit zoos and go horseback riding. Hudson and Span will be joined at the Twins & Pins event on Thursday by many of their teammates, including Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome and Joe Nathan. So does Hudson have his picks for who might be some of the players to watch on the lanes? "I know Mauer is a great bowler and Gardy is a good bowler," Hudson said. "And I dominate bowling. So I don't know, it should be entertaining to watch." There are a variety of packages available for those who would like to participate in the event. All packages include personalized bowling shirts, gift bags, team photos, guest passes as well as complementary food and beverage. For more information, visit TwinsandPins.com or call 651-343-4239.
Justin Morneau will be at Target Field on Friday where he will be reevaluated by trainers to see if he is ready for baseball activities. Reports indicate that Morneau feels OK, but the team will wait until they return to Minnesota to evaluate him. ... Second baseman Matt Tolbert is still not ready to throw, but when he is ready, he will go on a rehab assignment before being reactivated. ... Jim Thome, a career .346 hitter against Royals right-hander Brian Bannister, was not in the starting lineup Wednesday due to a little bit of a sore back. Thome was available to pinch-hit, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to give the veteran a day off so he will be ready for the weekend.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter and Samuel Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.