CHICAGO -- Ron Gardenhire won't talk about next year's starting double-play combo, but the Twins manager is excited about the talent the organization is assembling up the middle.
The Twins have four middle infielders who will split playing time the rest of the season: veterans Jamey Carroll (38 years old) and Alexi Casilla (28), as well as youngsters Eduardo Escobar (23) and Pedro Florimon (25).
Toss in 25-year-old Brian Dozier, who played in 84 games with the Twins this season but was not recalled this month, and Gardenhire is pleased with his in-house options for next year.
"The goal here is to get lots of talented people and find the best couple to start out there," Gardenhire said. "Our stock is rising as far as infielders go, which is good. We have some pretty good looking players for the middle."
During Gardenhire's first three years as manager -- which included three American League Central titles from 2002-04 -- the Twins started shortstop Cristian Guzman and second baseman Luis Rivas. During Minnesota's most recent division titles in 2009 and 2010, it went with different combinations: Casilla (second) and Orlando Cabrera (shortstop) and Orlando Hudson (second) and J.J. Hardy (shortstop), respectively.
The Twins have made it a priority the past few years to improve their talent level in the middle infield, and Gardenhire likes the direction the organization is heading.
"The big thing here is getting back to the point where you bring players to the Major Leagues because they've earned it, not because this is all you have," Gardenhire said. "When we've had that going, we just call people up and they step right in and you don't miss a beat. We're trying to get back to it in this organization and do it a lot quicker than people talk about.
"We've made some pretty good Drafts, we have some people coming up in A ball, Double-A that are on the move with pretty good numbers that are going to be pushing people, which is real good."
Gardenhire desires additional roster spots
CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked Tuesday night the White Sox shuffled their lineup like a football team during Minnesota's 18-9 win.
And although the White Sox only have 33 of the possible 40 spots filled on their active roster this month, it raises the common talking point of September callups bloating rosters during playoff races.
Gardenhire has no issue with teams adding as many players as they want once rosters expand. He's done the same in years when the Twins were in contention, bringing up specialty guys to run, hit or provide extra arms in the bullpen.
One thing Gardenhire would like to see, however -- and something that has been discussed -- is additional roster spots during the rest of the regular season.
"I think that we should play with about 27 guys in the regular season," Gardenhire said. "It would really minimize the up-and-down guys. When you have a bad day in your rotation or a couple bad days, if you had a couple extra guys out there, you could have more pitchers.
"There would be less roster moves. You end up sending guys here and there and all over the place anyway."
Willingham to get a couple days of rest
CHICAGO -- Josh Willingham was out of the starting lineup for the Twins' series finale Wednesday against the White Sox.
Willingham has been battling a sore hamstring and served as Minnesota's designated hitter the past two days after sitting out Sunday in Kansas City. Twins manger Ron Gardenhire said Willingham is mostly bothered by the injury when fielding in the outfield.
Gardenhire added he's hopeful the day off, as well Thursday's off-day, will give Willingham ample time to recover.
"If I can give him today and tomorrow, that would be a wonderful thing," said Gardenhire, adding Willingham would be available to pinch-hit. "He thinks he'll be able to get back out there and maybe play some outfield."
Among those in Wednesday's lineup was Eduardo Escobar, who played second and hit second after going 2-for-4 with three RBIs as the shortstop in Tuesday night's 18-9 win.
Escobar, who had a two-run single early in Tuesday's seven-run second, teamed with Pedro Florimon up the middle on Wednesday.
"It'll be entertaining to see them out there running around," Gardenhire said. "They're both very excitable young men and it'll be cool to see them out there."
Darin Mastroianni has continued to impress Twins manager Ron Gardenhire this season. The outfielder is hitting .291 with two home runs, nine RBIs and 13 steals in his last 37 games.
"[He] can make things happen and those are the kind of guys who, if you don't use them as a starter, then you put them in there when you're going through a little of one of those 'blahs,'" Gardenhire said. "You put a guy like that in there and he can really fire up a group."
Gardenhire said the Twins are "very aware," of left-hander Scott Diamond's workload this year. The rookie lefty has thrown 177 innings between the Majors and Minors, compared to 162 a year ago, and likely will finish the season around 200.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tuesday was the second time in Twins history they scored at least seven runs in two separate innings in the same game. The other came on June 12, 2003, against the Rockies.
Double-A New Britain outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was named the Eastern League Player of the Week after batting .382 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. He had multiple hits in all eight games and drove in at least one run in seven of those contests.