08/11/12 6:55 PM ET
Twins scoring more at home, but wins not following
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
Entering Saturday, the Twins have the highest batting average in the Majors at home, as they're hitting .290 as a team in 56 games at Target Field after batting just .252 there last year.
The Twins also rank 10th in the Majors in runs scored at home with 273, which isn't too far off their total of 290 runs scored at Target Field in all of 2011.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire credited the addition of Josh Willingham and the emergence of Trevor Plouffe for the improved offense at home, along with Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer returning to form after battling through injuries last season.
But he also quick to point out that the Twins have been far from perfect at home, as they have a 23-33 record at Target Field, compared to a 26-30 record on the road this year.
"We have speed and we've got some right-handed pop," Gardenhire said. "When Plouffe was in there, we had a couple guys bombing it that way. Mauer shoots the ball around the field. Morneau, this is probably not a prototype place for Morneau to hit, but he's been doing pretty good. He's been getting his swings in lately, so I don't know if we're built for it. I know it is what it is. It's our ballpark, and our job is to win more games at home than we lose, and we haven't done that yet."
With Price on mound, Span gets day off
MINNEAPOLIS -- With left-hander David Price on the mound for the Rays on Saturday night, center fielder Denard Span was held out of the Twins' starting lineup.
Span actually has a reverse platoon split, as he's hit better against lefties than righties in his career (.290 vs. .283, respectively), but Price is especially tough on lefties.
Left-handed hitters have a .198 average against Price over his career while right-handers have a .236 average.
"I don't ever fear it with Denard, righties or lefties, but if you're going to give him a day off, this is a good guy to give him one," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
With Span out of the lineup, Ben Revere started in center field, while Darin Mastroianni got the start in right field.
"Mastroianni's been swinging pretty good," Gardenhire said. "I know he can swing against lefties, so I'll give him a run at it."
Baker recovering nicely from Tommy John surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Scott Baker, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on April 17, said Saturday that he's making good progress with his rehab.
Baker threw for the first time since the surgery on Wednesday and said the plan is to throw every other day moving forward as part of his rehab.
"It's a progression," Baker said. "I feel like this is the long part. You get back to being able to throw and that ligament has to properly stretch out. I think people in the past have tried to speed up the process, but it doesn't work. Nine months is as fast as it's going to go."
Baker remains hopeful he'll be able to make a return early next season, but it might not be with the Twins, as the club holds a $9.25 million option for next season that they're all but certain not to exercise. But Baker said he's not thinking about that right now and is focusing on getting his elbow healthy instead.
"It's exciting enough where I don't have to look too far ahead," Baker said. "In saying that, as good as I feel right now, I can't imagine airing it out right now. It's a re-education of the muscles. But I'm happy. It's exciting, but I know it's still a long way to go."