MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar is off to a hot start offensively this season, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he plans to keep using him at shortstop as a result.
Escobar entered Friday's game against the Mariners hitting .347/.367/.533 with one homer, 11 doubles and eight RBIs in 27 games. He made his 14th start of the year at shortstop Friday over rookie Danny Santana, and Gardenhire said he's going to continue to find ways to keep Escobar in the lineup.
"With our situation right now, I'm just going to keep playing him at short because he's swinging so good and playing well," Gardenhire said. "We'll use the other guys as best as we can. We've always liked what he's brought to the table as energetic kid but he's a talented one, too. He won a Gold Glove in Venezuela and he's swinging the heck out of it so he's fun to put out there."
As Gardenhire noted, Escobar did win a Gold Glove for his efforts at shortstop during the Venezuelan Winter League during the offseason. He rates as an above-average defender but Gardenhire admitted he's not quite as good defensively as fellow shortstop Pedro Florimon, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on May 8 because of his struggles offensively.
"He's doing fine," Gardenhire said. "He's moving all right. But you get spoiled around here with Florimon moving all over the place. He has those long arms and it seemed like he could reach and get anything. But Escobar handles himself just fine. He gets to the balls he's supposed to catch and has a really strong arm. So he does fine but probably not as much range as the other guy but still a lot."
Pelfrey, Willingham begin rehab assignments
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Mike Pelfrey and left fielder Josh Willingham both began their rehab assignments at Triple-A Rochester on Friday.
Pelfrey, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin since May 2, went five innings in his first rehab start, giving up one run on five hits and a walk against Triple-A Columbus.
He threw 81 pitches with 53 going for strikes, and is expected to need at least one or two more rehab starts before rejoining the Twins.
Willingham, who is on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7 with a small fracture in his left wrist, started at designated hitter for Rochester and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Willingham will need to play in several more games at Triple-A until he makes his return to the Twins, as he's been out for more than a month. The Twins want to see that he's healthy and productive before he makes his return.
Fuld has setback in recovery from concussion
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins outfielder Sam Fuld was eligible to be activated from the 7-day concussion list Friday but still has yet to start baseball activities and there's no timetable for his return.
Fuld, who was placed on the DL with concussion-like symptoms on May 8, admitted he suffered a setback Wednesday but his symptoms have been improving in recent days.
"I had a setback on Wednesday but I feel much better," Fuld said. "There's still some symptoms so I'm not really doing a heck of a lot yet. Just walking around and some slow walks is all I'm really doing right now."
Fuld added that this is his first documented concussion, and so it's hard to know what to expect. He's suffered from the usual symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and headaches.
"It's really frustrating," Fuld said. "We've all had our fair share of injuries but if you injure something, you can always make up for it with something else. Like if you injure your ankle, you can get on the arm bike or if it's your wrist, you can get on the bike or run around. But really the remedy here is to do nothing."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Fuld will need to feel symptom-free for roughly four to five days before he'll be able to resume baseball activities.
"That's the process," Gardenhire said. "We just need to keep him to do that for four or five days now. The trainers say three but I say four or five. But once we let him do that, we'll make a decision and see if we can put him out there. But he has to be symptom-free before he starts running around on the field and doing baseball activities."
Fuld originally suffered his concussion on May 2 after running into the center-field wall at Target Field. He played in six games after the concussion before the symptoms began to worsen.
The Twins are looking into replacing their outfield walls to add new material to make them more cushioned, much like the walls at Chase Field in Phoenix. Twins owner Jim Pohlad called assistant general manager Rob Antony to discuss their options about improving the padding in the walls.
"We actually have talked about it," Antony said. "We're looking to see if there are any options of outfield walls we could install. I have to check with Major League Baseball to see if it's something we could do during the season or after the season."
Hope Week continues with tree-planting effort
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins kicked off their All-Star Game legacy efforts by planting trees in St. Paul on Friday.
Volunteers from the Twins front office and the Pohlad Family of Companies were on hand at the event with Great River Greening to plant trees at the Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul.
The tree-planting is part of the All-Star legacy project aimed to transform the preserve into a nature sanctuary complete with prairie, savanna, maple-basswood forest and a storm water management system of filtration ponds and wetlands, as well as to expand the trail to create an 18-mile uninterrupted path through nature.
The tree-planting was also part of the fourth annual Hope Week for the Twins, which featured several charitable efforts throughout the week.
Other events included a fishing outing with children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities hosted by Twins closer Glen Perkins on Tuesday at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. First baseman Joe Mauer also hosted a Picnic in the Park on Wednesday with patients from Gillette Children's Hospital in the Legends Club at Target Field.
The tree-planting was the first of many projects for the Twins as part of their legacy giving effort with the club set to host the All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15.
The Twins and Major League Baseball are set to contribute a record $8 million toward local projects and national charitable initiatives as part of the 2014 All-Star community legacy effort.
"It's humbling," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "Obviously the All-Star Game itself is going to be a wonderful showcase of the ballpark, the city and the state but the legacy giving projects are going to be here long after the All-Star Game concludes. So it's really a chance to give back and make a difference to people who need help."