05/27/11 9:16 PM ET
Twins issue statement on Bargas' cancer
By Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Schelling / MLB.com
Bargas, 22, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rockies for catcher Jose Morales, is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Twins general Bill Smith released this official statement with the permission of Bargas' wife Victoria:
"Paul Bargas reported to the Twins Spring Training in Fort Myers in March. The following morning, during the course of his physical examination, he complained of severe headaches and exhibited significant disorientation. He was taken to Gulf Coast Hospital in Fort Myers where he remained for approximately one week. Paul was subsequently released and returned to his home in California for further examination. Following extensive evaluation at the UCLA Medical Center, Paul was diagnosed with Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma.
"He is undergoing several series of chemotherapy that will span over 3-4 months. Paul was admitted into the UCLA Medical Center this week to complete his second round of chemotherapy.
"Paul was just acquired during the off-season, and has only been a member of the Twins organization for a few months, but has shown great passion for the game of baseball and impressed everyone he met in this organization. We continue to monitor his progress and wish him great success in his recovery."
Hunter loves 'coming home' to play Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Twins star Torii Hunter held court with a group of reporters for nearly 20 minutes before Friday's game at Target Field, speaking his mind about a range of subjects such as his thoughts on Minnesota fans, the current state of the Twins and the Angels, and his respect for Harmon Killebrew.
Hunter, who played with the Twins from 1997-2007 before joining the Angels in 2008 upon signing a five-year deal worth $90 million, said he always loves coming "home" to Minnesota to play the Twins.
"It's been four years now but it's always awesome coming back," Hunter said. "Something I love about coming back to Minnesota is they show you a lot of love. I'm like family and I grew up here [in the organization] and they really take care of me."
Hunter also said he's been following the Twins from afar -- in his "adopted home" of Los Angeles -- and recalled the days of when a group of pranksters helped keep the club loose even when they were struggling, like the Twins are now.
"When I played, we had crazy guys," Hunter said. "Guys were loco. I mean, even my last couple years, Luis Castillo, he was crazy. [Mike] Redmond was crazy."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed with Hunter's take and said he misses the veteran outfielder's presence in the clubhouse.
"He came to the park with that smile and you knew he arrived and made everyone around here a little more pumped up," Gardenhire said. "But he played at a level where he was into it. And he didn't accept somebody not running the ball out. Torii would go over and talk to them. Those are the types of leaders who carry a clubhouse."
Hunter also made sure to discuss his deep admiration for Killebrew, who passed away on May 17 after a bout with esophageal cancer. Hunter also made an appearance in a video tribute on Thursday during Killebrew's public memorial at Target Field and recalled how Killebrew helped him improve his autograph.
"We all know what Harmon Killebrew did on the field -- he hit 40 or more home runs eight times and dropped bombs all the time," Hunter said. "But off the field, he was such a positive guy. He was a strong guy and whenever I was struggling whether it was with family issues [or] on the field, he always had positive things to say."
Nishioka, Mauer getting ready to return
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins trainer Dave Pruemer gave a slew of injury updates before Friday night's game against the Angels, including an update on infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who is scheduled to play in his first rehab game on Saturday in extended Spring Training.
Nishioka, who fractured his left fibula on April 7, is slated to play five innings at shortstop while getting a few at-bats in his first game in Fort Myers, Fla. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the club still isn't sure how many games Nishioka will need before he returns, but he'd like to see him get at least 50 at-bats in the Minors.
"He's just now getting started," Gardenhire said. "They did another X-ray and everything looked great so he got the OK to go. He's fired up and has been doing a lot of drills at shortstop."
Catcher Joe Mauer also played in another rehab game in extended Spring Training on Friday, getting four at-bats as a designated hitter.
"Joe did fine," Pruemer said. "His knees felt good so we'll continue to progress with him."
Left-hander Jose Mijares (left elbow strain) is also scheduled to pitch with Class A Fort Myers on Friday and Sunday, and Pruemer says there's "a chance" he'll be ready to be activated from the disabled list on Monday.
Fellow left-hander Glen Perkins (right oblique strain) is also expected to begin playing catch this weekend, while right-hander Matt Capps' sore forearm feels better and he was available for action Friday night.
Casilla earns start at short with strong bat
MINNEAPOLIS -- His offensive struggles got Alexi Casilla taken out of the role as the Twins' everyday shortstop. After a couple strong games at the plate while playing second base, Casilla found himself back at shortstop Friday against the Angels.
It was Casilla's first start at shortstop since May 1, after playing 20 games at short in April.
"Swinging the bat, he's aggressive," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think he looks more comfortable in the infield, hopefully he'll look OK tonight at shortstop. At second base he looks more comfortable, we'll move him back over there because he's swinging."
Casilla was joined up the middle by Michael Cuddyer, who was back in the Twins lineup Friday after missing two games with a strained right hip.
Over his last three starts, Casilla has gone 5-for-9 with a double and two runs scored. He's raised his average over that time from .184 to .215.
"If Alexi stays aggressive with the bat like he has and drives the ball like he has, that's fun to watch," Gardenhire said. "That's kind of what we were hoping for."
Plouffe sits after struggles on field
MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Twins leading by three runs Monday, shortstop Trevor Plouffe made a pair of miscues that helped the Mariners cut the deficit and eventually come back and win.
Plouffe hasn't seen the field since.
First, he double-pumped on a throw and allowed Jack Wilson to reach on an error, and later let an Ichiro Suzuki popup land in front of him, allowing a runner to score from third. In both instances, Plouffe was not aggressive enough to make the play.
"You have to be aggressive," Plouffe said before Friday's game against the Angels. "I think that I am that player, I think that I had an inning where I wasn't aggressive and clearly it was taken as it being that's how I play, and that's really not how I play. I feel like I am aggressive, I can play every day, I know."
Plouffe's defense, along with the way Alexi Casilla has hit lately, and the return of Michael Cuddyer at second base, have left Plouffe on the bench. He had previously started six straight games at shortstop for the Twins and 13 total games since being called up May 6.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Plouffe have talked since his defensive miscues Monday night, and they've discussed the need for the shortstop to be aggressive while in the field. It's also been made clear to Plouffe that when he is at short, he needs to be the leader of the infield defensively.
"He's working on it," Gardenhire said of Plouffe's leadership. "First we've got to get him comfortable. But as I told him, 'You need to run the infield. ... Get out there and take charge.'"
Talking with reporters before Friday's game, Gardenhire discussed the need to balance fielding the team he thinks had the best chance to win and getting Plouffe some time as well, while keeping him from getting discouraged about a couple mistakes.
"He's in the Major Leagues, he's got to be ready to handle whatever we throw at him," Gardenhire said of Plouffe. "We're trying to win ball games. We're trying to get a feel for the people out there that can get it done. So now he comes off the bench, that's a role too. Tonight he's sitting on the bench, he may start at shortstop tomorrow."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.