08/11/10 8:57 PM ET
Morneau continues workouts at Target Field
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Versatile Cuddyer a cornerstone for Twins
CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been heaping plenty of praise on Michael Cuddyer and the versatile player's impact on his team this season, especially over the past month in Justin Morneau's absence.But Gardenhire isn't the only one who has recognized Cuddyer's impact. So has White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. During Guillen's pregame media session on Wednesday, he spent a lot of time talking about the Twins and his respect level for Chicago's AL Central rival. He lauded many of the Twins' players, including Joe Mauer, but he singled out Cuddyer as one player that often gets overlooked. "Michael Cuddyer, that kid is the most underrated player in the game," Guillen said. Cuddyer certainly has proven valuable to the Twins in his ability to move around the field. Having begun this season in right field, Cuddyer has now also started games at second base, center field, third base and first base. And there seems to be something about his offense while playing first base. Since moving to first base full-time when Morneau went down with a concussion on July 7, Cuddyer is batting .308 with four home runs, nine doubles and 18 RBIs. On Tuesday night, Cuddyer came up with two huge hits for the Twins and delivered four RBIs, marking his first four-RBI game since May 22, 2009, vs. Milwaukee. "He's been above and beyond," Gardenhire said of Cuddyer. "He's a good player. I think he's comfortable no matter where we put him. We've put him at second this year, we've put him now at first. Wherever you put him, he just goes out and plays and does his job and doesn't need a break. I can't say enough about him. I don't know where we would have been at the end of last season without him and I don't know where we'd be right now."
Mauer getting numbers back to norms
CHICAGO -- Less than a month ago, there were a lot of questions lingering about Joe Mauer and the fact that the three-time AL batting champion's batting average was hovering right under the .300 mark.But since the All-Star break, things have been turning around for Mauer at the plate, particularly in the past 12 games. Entering play Wednesday, Mauer was batting .543 (25-for-46) since July 26 at Kansas City and .435 in 21 games in the second half. The hot stretch raised Mauer's average from .293 in his final game of the first half -- its lowest point since the third game of this season -- to .325. "Maybe he feels better since on a consistent basis he's had a few more days off," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His body feels better and all those things come into play a little bit. But you are talking about a .350, .340 hitter. If he does that pretty much his whole career, he'll probably do it again this year." Earlier this season, Gardenhire labeled Mauer's struggling average as partly bad luck since the catcher was hitting the ball hard but right at people. And he said that could be one of the reasons that Mauer's average has gone up now since balls seem to be finding more holes. But of course health is a big factor and the catcher had one aspect of that health -- his right shoulder -- tested for the first time on Tuesday night since he received a cortisone shot. In the first inning, Chicago's Alex Rios attempted to steal second base with two outs and Mauer threw him out easily without any problems. "He's fine, he's come out and done his work and he's feeling better," Gardenhire said of Mauer's shoulder. "He had plenty of days off."
Jim Thome was not in the lineup on Wednesday against White Sox lefty John Danks. Instead, Jason Repko got the start in right field and Jason Kubel was slotted as the Twins' designated hitter. Manager Ron Gardenhire has taken the opportunity to rest Thome, who will turn 40 on Aug. 27, against left-handed pitchers but Gardenhire said Thome would be back in the lineup for Thursday's series finale against right-hander Gavin Floyd. ... Kevin Slowey (right elbow tendinitis) will throw his bullpen session on Thursday in preparation for his start on Sunday. Gardenhire said the club will have to wait to see how Slowey's elbow responds after the bullpen session before determining if he will be able to pitch that day. ... The television broadcast of the Twins-White Sox game on Fox Sports North on Tuesday night drew a 13.3 rating. It's the highest rating the Twins have drawn this season and ranks among their top five Twins game on the station.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.