04/07/10 10:56 PM ET
Tickets available for Twins' homestand
Opening nine-game stint at Target Field begins Monday
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Twins' Hardy close to regaining old form
ANAHEIM -- Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy spent the winter and all of Spring Training trying to get his swing back to the same form he had in the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the Brewers. It's not quite where he wants it to be yet, Hardy said Wednesday, but it's getting there."It's taken a lot of work to get to the point that I'm at now," Hardy said, while crediting hitting coach Joe Vavra for helping him to make the necessary changes. "I don't think that I'm where I want to be, but I feel like I'm a lot closer to '07 and '08 than I was at any point last year. That's kind of what I'm going for. Having a full season of creating bad habits in 2009, it's taken a while to get rid of them, but I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now." One positive sign for Hardy that his swing is getting back on track was the home run that he hit in Tuesday night's 5-3 win over the Angels. It was the first home run for Hardy since July 18 of last season. But more important than the result was the swing that Hardy put on the ball. "He's worked really, really hard," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's very receptive. ... But I think the biggest thing is to forget everything. People have bad years in this game and people go through struggling times. Just have to be able to forget. For me that's basically what I told J.J., that stuff is gone. You are a new player here and go out and have some fun. " For Hardy, the adjustment this season won't be just about his swing but also adapting to the American League. Tuesday night was the first time that Hardy had ever faced Angels left-hander Joe Saunders. And while he didn't see the ball well in his first at-bat, Hardy said he was able to get a better feel in that second at-bat when he hit the homer. "There are definitely going to be pitchers I haven't seen and it might take an at-bat or two to kind of pick up their release point," Hardy said. "But it all comes together. It's working on a new swing, seeing new pitchers, being at new ballparks. It's just a little bit of an adjustment."
Thome gets first start as Twins DH
ANAHEIM -- Jim Thome got his first start at designated hitter for the Twins on Wednesday night against the Angels, but it might not be his only start of the series.Twins manager Ron Gadenhire said it's possible that Thome could get the nod at DH in Thursday's series finale against the Angels with right-hander Joel Pineiro on the mound. While Jason Kubel sat on Wednesday, Gardenhire said that if Thome plays again, then Kubel would be in left field and Delmon Young would get a rest. "I'm not going to sit him for three or four days," Gardenhire said. "You want Thome to get at-bats early in the season." Gardenhire said he plans to mix and match over the remainder of the road trip, allowing all of his players to see time out on the field. So over the next few days he'll try to get his other bench players -- Brendan Harris, Alexi Casilla and Drew Butera -- into the lineup as well. He added it's possible that Butera could see his first start behind the plate on Friday night in Chicago because the team will be flying overnight and it might be a good time to give Joe Mauer a rest.
Young trying to stave off slow start
ANAHEIM -- Delmon Young has said in the past that he's a slow starter and that it usually takes him around 150 at-bats to start feeling comfortable.So this spring, both Young and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire tried to make sure that the outfielder got as many at-bats as possible. That included Young going to the Minor League side of the Twins' complex in Fort Myers, Fla., to get even more swings. "We tried to get him 150 in spring so we don't waste them in the year," Gardenhire said. "We'll get him plenty at-bats and do the best we can. But I don't like that theory. He's too young of a guy to say it takes me 150 at-bats to get me going. He's only played two years." Young's extra work this spring, along with the nearly 30 pounds he dropped over the winter, has certainly appeared to have an effect over the first two games. Young hit a home run and stole a base in the first game of the series with the Angels. He also drove in a run on Tuesday night with a sacrifice fly in a 3-2 count, and he entered Wednesday's game batting .429 (3-for-7) with three RBIs. "He stayed on the ball and shot it the other way," Gardenhire said of the sac fly. "He's running well, running the bases. As we said in Spring Training, Delmon put an effort in to lose weight and get in good shape where he could get the most out of his ability and it's showed."
Gardenhire feeling better
ANAHEIM -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire left Tuesday night's contest after the fourth inning with flu-like symptoms, but he said he was feeling much better on Wednesday.Gardenhire was back in the dugout for the third game of the series, and he joked that he learned one lesson from the experience on Tuesday night -- make sure pitching coach Rick Anderson makes the pitching change so his absence isn't known. The skipper said he received a lot of phone calls and text messages checking on how he was doing after acting manager Scott Ullger went to the mound to take Nick Blackburn out of the game.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.