07/20/08 3:00 PM ET
Twins' Punto to avoid disabled list
Infielder feeling better after cortisone shot in finger
By Leslie Parker / Special to MLB.com
Infielder Nick Punto, who received a cortisone shot for his strained left ring finger on Thursday, was available to play in Sunday's game against the Rangers. That's good news for the versatile infielder and the Twins, who thought Punto might have to make another trip to the disabled list.
"Punto's better today. He says he might be able to play some defense today. We'll see if we need him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We'll go down and see if he can play catch first, but if he tells me he can play then I'd put him in the game."
Gardenhire said he may use Punto as a late-inning defensive replacement or in an emergency situation, as he has not swung a bat yet.
Punto came to the clubhouse Sunday feeling better and actually requested to try his hand out at the plate, but the trainers cautioned him to try fielding first. Gardenhire said Punto should be able to play fully in the next couple of days.
In addition to Punto being on the mend, Pat Neshek -- on the 60-day DL for an acute partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow -- told Gardenhire he would be heading down to Florida in early August to begin a rehab program.
Neshek has been on the DL since May 9 and is expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
"I just asked him [Saturday], and he says he's going down to do some light stuff in Florida," Gardenhire said.
But Gardenhire cautioned about being too optimistic that the setup man could make it back before the close of the season.
"We don't even know if he can throw a baseball yet, we don't know if the pain's still going to be there," Gardenhire said. "He hasn't done anything like that, and he's just going to go down there and start doing light arm rehab. ... I don't even know if they talked about throwing. It could be the same strengthening stuff. He's just going to get involved in the program, and we'll see where he's at. He'll tell me more as he gets closer to doing those things."
Leslie Parker is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.