KANSAS CITY -- Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey endured a tough day after learning that Wichita State's longtime baseball coach Gene Stephenson was forced out Tuesday after 36 years. Pelfrey pitched for the Shockers from 2003-05 before the Mets selected him ninth overall in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Stephenson became a prominent figure in collegiate baseball while building the Shocker program from the ground up.
"He deserves to go out on his own terms," Pelfrey said. "Forcing him out is not right at all. I don't like the way they handled it.
"I remember watching video of that place when he got there and it was nothing. I grew up in Wichita, and that was the place to be and the place to go. When you think of Wichita State, you think of Gene Stephenson. To hear that they are turning their back on him is shameful."
Thomas tries to continue hot start with promotion
KANSAS CITY -- Outfielder Clete Thomas joined the Twins on Tuesday anxious to showcase the skills that earned him a promotion from Triple-A Rochester.
Thomas hit .296 with nine home runs, eight doubles and 25 RBIs through 36 games with the Red Wings. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he plans to use Thomas in at least one game of Minnesota's series in Kansas City. The Twins selected the 28-year-old's contract when they optioned Chris Colabello to Triple-A, designating Tyler Robertson for assignment.
Thomas hit .362 in April and credits his strong start to prior work with Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky.
"There was a lot of stuff that Bruno and I worked on last year, and I continued working on it during the offseason," Thomas said. "I took it into Spring Training, and it took effect there."
Despite the impressive power numbers at Rochester, Thomas describes himself as a gap-to-gap hitter.
"I've got power, but I'm not a home run hitter," Thomas said. "I'm kind of a table-setter guy. I hit the ball in the gap, and if it gets up, it goes out."
Thomas had a 12-game stint with the Twins last year, going 4-for-28 with a double and a home run. He could be used a late-inning defensive replacement with outfielder Darin Mastroianni on the disabled list.
"I'll find a way to get him in there," Gardenhire said. "He can play all three [outfield] positions."
Thomas struck out 16 times in 29 plate appearances with the Twins last year, and a big goal in returning to the Major Leagues was finding a way to make more contact.
"He really needed to make adjustments with putting more balls in play," Gardenhire said. "He went down, and to his credit, shortened his swing. He has really swung the bat well."
Brett's return to Royals dugout surprises Gardenhire
KANSAS CITY -- Count Twins manager Ron Gardenhire among those surprised by Hall of Famer George Brett's decision to put on the uniform again as interim hitting coach for the Royals.
While the Twins relaxed in their clubhouse before batting practice Tuesday, Brett held a press conference down the hallway at Kauffman Stadium prior to his first home appearance in the new role.
"To have a guy of his stature, a Hall of Famer, want to go down there and see if he can help some people ... that's pretty cool," Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire played five seasons in the National League with the Mets and didn't cross paths with Brett, who spent his the entirety of his 21-year career with the Royals.
"I cheered him on from afar," Gardenhire said. "I always loved the way he played."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.