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6/13/2013 8:45 P.M. ET

Twins sign Eppley to Minors deal, release Slama

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins released Triple-A reliever Anthony Slama on Thursday and signed right-hander Cody Eppley to a Minor League deal, assigning him to Rochester to replace Slama on the roster.

Slama, 29, excelled in the Minor Leagues, posting a 1.99 ERA with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings in six seasons heading into this year. But he dealt with a lower back strain this season and had a 13.50 ERA in 14 appearances with Rochester.

Despite Slama's success in the Minors, he only pitched seven innings with the Twins with short stints in the Majors in 2010 and '11. He was a candidate to get called up last year but suffered a broken fibula on a comebacker in early June and missed eight weeks before returning to Rochester late in the season.

"He's had some injuries," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had some arm problems. When he brought him up here, he couldn't really hold a runner. He was really slow to home plate and they were running all over him. So that's why he was sent down the first time he came up. But he needed some things to work on."

Eppley, 27, has some big league experience with a 4.61 ERA in 76 career appearances with the Rangers and Yankees. He posted a 3.33 ERA last season in 59 games with the Yankees.

Thomas fitting in while Hicks rests hamstring

MINNEAPOLIS -- Center fielder Aaron Hicks, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a strained left hamstring, said he's feeling better but that it's still too early to pinpoint a return date.

Hicks strained his hamstring in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader against the Nationals while trying to beat out a grounder hit to third base. The rookie said it's the first time he's suffered a hamstring injury.

"It's starting to feel better," said Hicks, who is eligible to return on June 25. "It's all about rehab and trying to get better."

With Hicks out, Clete Thomas will be the club's regular center fielder, and he had a breakout game on Wednesday. Thomas had a career-high four hits, drove in the tying run on an RBI double, and scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning of the Twins' 4-3 win.

Thomas said it's nice knowing he'll be getting regular playing time, as he's mostly seen action as a part-timer in parts of four seasons in the big leagues. He has played in 145 games with the Tigers and 19 with the Twins, including Thursday's game against the Phillies.

"That's always helped, being a regular every day," Thomas said. "You get to keep your timing, you're not wondering if you're going to go in late or pinch-run or go play defense or pinch-hit. You're going to be in there and it's your spot right now. I'm going to do the best I can."

Pressly ready to return from strep throat

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Twins reliever Ryan Pressly put it, it hasn't been a fun week.

Pressly left the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against the Nationals with what he thought was a biceps injury, only to find out Monday it was actually soreness in the back of his shoulder.

He threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and thought he'd be good to go on Wednesday, but he ended up getting sent home with strep throat. But Pressly said he should be ready to pitch on Thursday, if needed.

"It was weird, I'd start sweating and then I'd start feeling really cold," Pressly said. "It was like, 'I don't like this.' But I feel fine. I'm good to go today."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.