07/17/12 10:53 PM ET
Four-hit night has Morneau in swing of things
By Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Garretson / MLB.com
The first baseman registered the 10th four-hit game of his career, and his first since July 4, 2009. Morneau also extended his hitting streak to 14 games, two shy of his career-best of 16 from June 22-July 9, 2006.
Morneau is hitting .356 during the streak, after struggling for most of June. The 31-year-old hit just .232 last month with a .316 slugging percentage.
"I have to keep working hard and keep trying to get back to being the hitter I want to be and I expect myself to be," Morneau said. "Hopefully this is just a step along the way."
Morneau's use of the entire field has been paramount during his streak. Three of the left-hander's four hits in Monday's game went to either the left side or center field, taking advantage of another dramatic right-side shift by an opposing defense.
"I'm just trying to take what they give me," Morneau said. "When I'm going good, I'm using the whole field.
"I wouldn't say I'm trying to hit the ball over there, but if the opportunity presents itself -- if they throw something over there -- it's just been managing to get through there."
Manager Ron Gardenhire noted something else Morneau has displayed recently -- a big smile.
"Right now, it's just about seeing him smile and actually enjoying the game," Gardenhire said. "Getting some hits, he needed that. Once you get your confidence, everything seems to follow along behind it."
Capps back on DL with rotator cuff injury
MINNEAPOLIS -- Four days after being activated from the 15-day disabled list, Matt Capps is heading back to the DL.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Capps irritated his rotator cuff while pitching the ninth inning on Monday against Baltimore. It was only Capps' second appearance after he missed 15 games with right shoulder inflammation.
Right-hander Nick Blackburn will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take Capps' place on the 25-man roster. Blackburn, who is 2-0 with an 0.60 ERA in two starts with Rochester since being sent there on July 4, will join the Twins on Wednesday.
Capps made two rehab appearances for Class A Advanced Fort Myers before being activated from the DL on Friday.
"There wasn't any urgency to rush back," Ryan said. "He was doing fine on the rehab assignment. Last night, he did something to irritate that thing."
Capps owns a 3.81 ERA in 29 appearances for Minnesota this season. The right-hander has successfully converted 14-of-15 save opportunities.
Pavano takes steps toward return from DL
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Carl Pavano threw from 150 feet on Tuesday for the first time since being placed on the disabled list June 4, and if all goes well, he'll throw off a mound for the first time on Sunday.
Pavano, who was placed on the DL with a right shoulder strain, is slated to throw from 150 feet again on Thursday before moving on to the mound on Sunday.
Pavano said he is pleased with the progress he's making, but there's still no official timetable for his return. He still needs to build up his pitch count and go on a rehab assignment before he rejoins the rotation.
"It was good," Pavano said. "We've talked. Once I get back on the mound, my touch and feel will be back, and we'll be able evaluate where I'm at, as far as when I'll get into games and how many pitches and all that. But I'm optimistic. I had a good day."
Pavano, who has a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts this season, added that he's looking forward to throwing off a mound for the first time facing the Indians on June 1.
"It's a big day," Pavano said. "It's another step in the process before getting back and facing hitters and getting into games. It's been a while. It's what I've been working forward to every day. It's good. I'm excited."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.