4/12/2014 8:35 P.M. ET
Colabello cleaning up in Twins' batting order
By Kerry Walls / Special to MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- To say Chris Colabello has embraced hitting in the cleanup spot would be an understatement. For a Twins team needing an offensive boost, especially with the injury to Josh Willingham, Colabello's production in a high-profile spot in the lineup has been a welcome sight.
Colabello was given the assignment early in the season and has taken off, sharing the Major League lead in RBIs with Jose Abreu of the White Sox with 14 entering Saturday's game against the Royals.
"I think my second start in Chicago," Colabello said, "[Manager Ron Gardenhire] sent Joe [Mauer] up to the two-hole, and hit Josh [Willingham] third and me fourth.
"I remember last year the one time I hit fourth was in Kansas City. [Hitting coach Tom Brunansky] came up to me in the cages and said, 'I don't want you to overthink this or try to do too much, but you're hitting fourth today.' I said, 'You don't have to worry about me when I'm hitting fourth.'"
Colabello, who tore up the International League last season by hitting .352 with 24 homers and 76 RBIs, said he's always hit third or fourth throughout his career.
"You've got to want to be in that spot," Colabello said. "It's the same thing with driving in runs. You've got to want to hit with guys on base. Down here, I'm supposed to produce runs and, thankfully, it's gone pretty well."
Acting manager Terry Steinbach recognized the tendency for some hitters to be overwhelmed batting cleanup.
"It's the weird thing about baseball," he said, "because you'll have a guy who will hit great in the sixth-hole, and you bring him to the four-hole, and his numbers change. I don't know why that is.
"We're happy [Colabello's] comfortable in that spot. I think what's even more impressive is the year he came off last year, working hard this offseason and coming into Spring Training very confident in his swing."
Willingham lands on DL with sore left wrist
MINNEAPOLIS -- As planned, the Twins placed outfielder Josh Willingham on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a sore left wrist sustained on a hit-by-pitch last Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 7.
To replace Willingham on the roster, right-hander Michael Tonkin was recalled from Triple-A Rochester. Tonkin fired one scoreless inning with a strikeout in the Twins' 7-1 victory over the Royals at Target Field.
The expectation is that Willingham only needs the minimum amount of time on the DL. However, an MRI will be taken on the wrist just to be sure.
"We're hoping so," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "We were playing it day by day hoping to not have to put him on the DL. We'll have an MRI to make sure we're not missing anything. If that's clean, we'll rest him for a few days and see how it feels."
Willingham was batting .294 (5-for-17) with an RBI through six games.
Tonkin made one appearance for the Twins earlier this season, tossing a scoreless inning on April 2 against the White Sox. He didn't allow a run in 4 2/3 innings for the Red Wings this season while striking out five.
Gardy praises Steinbach for victory over KC
MINNEAPOLIS -- Terry Steinbach's first victory as acting manager earned praise from Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire, who missed a second game on Saturday while attending a funeral.
"He sent a couple texts out last night saying congratulations," Steinbach said. "He was happy to see the offense do what it's capable of doing and to see [starter Kyle Gibson] go out there and give us the game that he thought he could give us."
When asked by a reporter if he ever felt comfortable considering the big lead in Friday's 10-1 win over the Royals, Steinbach claimed he was "still pretty nervous" despite the lopsided margin.
"We had the six-run lead and we were contemplating making some defensive moves," Steinbach said. "[Darin Mastroianni in right field] for [Chris] Colabello was easy. That's kind of the plan. We kicked around the idea of getting Joe [Mauer] out [at first base], getting him some rest for the night game to the day game. But with a six-run lead, I didn't feel comfortable with that."
Despite the kudos from Gardenhire, Steinbach wasn't able to get into the skipper's custom humidor to enjoy a victory cigar.
"Gardy wouldn't give me the key," Steinbach joked.
Bartlett to continue rehab work in Fort Myers
MINNEAPOLIS -- Injured utility man Jason Bartlett will head to the Twins' Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday to continue rehab on his bruised left ankle. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 7.
Bartlett was able to run the bases prior to Friday's game.
"The plan is to fly out tomorrow," assistant general manager Rob Antony said, "work out for a few days there and get him going. He'll rehab with [the Miracle] and play in games with them, then try to get him up to [Triple-A] Rochester."
There's no definitive timetable for Bartlett's return, other than the desire to get him plenty of rehab at-bats.
"I know he wants to play," Antony said. "He was excited to make the club, but he wants to contribute to the club, too."
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.