03/24/12 5:00 PM ET
Thompson suspended 50 games for drug violation
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Thompson, 25, pitched in two Grapefruit League games this spring, allowing one run over two innings. The non-roster invite was reassigned to Minor League camp on Monday.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan confirmed the suspension, and said he wasn't happy with Thompson violating the drug program. Ryan said Thompson tested positive for a recreational drug.
"We're going to keep him," Ryan said. "He's just suspended without pay. When you got 160 kids -- and this guy is not a kid -- there is no excuse. So we're going to take care of it. I'm disappointed in that."
Thompson made his Major League debut with the Pirates last season, posting a 7.04 ERA over 7 2/3 innings.
Morneau hits first spring homer -- and second
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Justin Morneau made his seventh straight start at designated hitter on Saturday against the Rays, and looked at home, blasting two homers in his first three plate appearances against Jeremy Hellickson.
Morneau hit a two-run homer in the first and a three-run shot in the fourth, while drawing a walk in between. Morneau was due to lead off the fifth inning, but Rene Rivera replaced him as a pinch hitter.
"I've been feeling better every day, especially the last three or four days," Morneau said. "I've been taking a lot of swings and the timing is starting to feel a lot better. The swing is starting to feel a lot better. Home runs happen.
"It's not going to be a day like that every day, but you have good days, and it's good to have one of those days now and get the confidence going. Hopefully we continue it and keep swinging the bat."
Morneau, who also doubled against the Yankees on Friday, hasn't played first base since March 13, and there remains a chance he could start the season as the club's designated hitter.
But Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that Morneau is simply serving as DH because it gives him more at-bats and that the club isn't worried about his defense. Even after Morneau's big game on Saturday, he's hitting just .154 with three extra-base hits.
With Morneau serving as DH, Joe Mauer made his third start of the spring at first base while Chris Parmelee started in right field for the first time after playing three innings there on Friday.
Although Parmelee only played first base in his 21-game stint with the Twins last season, he's no stranger to right field, as he's played there 282 times in the Minors, compared to 323 games at first base.
Parmelee, who hit .355 with 10 extra-base hits as a September call-up last year, has carried that over into the spring, as he also homered on Saturday and is hitting .316 with three homers, a double and a triple this spring.
Ryan said there remains a chance that Parmelee could make the club, which means Morneau would start the season as DH.
"He could DH," Ryan said. "We'll have to see how it plays out this spring. Right now, Parmelee is having quite a spring. You start to say, 'Jeez, how are we going to get that bat in the lineup?' He's a first baseman and an outfielder. He can play both."
Morneau said he'd like to play first base a few more times this spring, and while he'd rather serve as the club's first baseman, he's OK being relegated to DH duty if it helps the club.
"If it's what keeps everybody in the lineup, and if it's what I have to do, it's what I have to do," Morneau said. "But I don't think we've made a decision on that. We'll cross that bridge in about two weeks."
Marquis misses start to tend to family issue
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Jason Marquis missed his scheduled start against the Rays on Saturday, as he remained home in New York to tend to a family issue. Right-hander Jeff Gray started in his place.
Marquis left camp on Thursday, and the club still isn't sure when he'll be back. He threw a bullpen back home on Saturday.
"It will be a few more days before he can free himself up, which is the right thing," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said.
Second baseman Alexi Casilla also missed his third straight game, as his wife, Dalkis, has been in the hospital with back problems. Casilla, though, is expected to be back in the lineup on Sunday against the Cardinals.
Baker scheduled to return on Monday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins right-hander Scott Baker is set to start against the Rays on Monday for his first Grapefruit League start since March 6.
Baker, who has been dealing with elbow tendinitis, tossed two scoreless innings in a Minor League game on Thursday. It was his first outing since pitching in a "B" game against the Pirates on March 10.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he remains hopeful that Baker will be able to avoid the disabled list to start the season.
"He's going to take the mound here in a few days and everything is in order," Ryan said. "I'm anxious to see him. We're trying to get him going here."
Outfielder Trevor Plouffe, who suffered a strained right hamstring on Sunday, is also likely to play in a Minor League game on Monday.
"He's doing fine," Ryan said. "We aren't going to take him to Jupiter on Sunday, but Monday you may end up seeing him over [at Minor League camp]. We want to make sure. We don't want to put him in an 'A' game until we're positive. He's pretty close."