4/13/2014 7:35 P.M. ET
Kubel hitting familiar stride in return to Twins
By Kerry Walls / Special to MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Kubel saw mixed results in his two years away from the Twins.
In 2012 for the Diamondbacks, Kubel mashed a career-high 30 homers with 92 RBIs. But during an injury-riddled 2013, he hit just .216 with five home runs in 97 games before being traded to Cleveland that August. Things didn't fare much better there during his short stint with the Tribe.
Kubel's decision to reunite with the Twins on a Minor League deal last December allowed him to return to a comfortable setting. After all, he had enjoyed three 20-homer seasons with Minnesota in parts of seven seasons from 2004-11.
Things may not have looked promising after Kubel hit just .196 during Spring Training. However, he's turned it on once the regular season kicked in. Despite going 0-for-2 in the Twins' 4-3 win over the Royals on Sunday, he's batting .385 with a homer and seven RBIs.
"He's happy. I've always said he can hit," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You put him in the right circumstances, right situation. He's off to a good start. "He's playing good in the outfield. "I don't think that gets enough credit. He was one of our best hitters coming up through our system. I think he's comfortable. I think he likes it here. And I think it bodes well for him."
Kubel echoed the skipper's sentiment, stating there's certainly something about being in familiar surroundings.
"It just feels good," Kubel said. "It feels like I fit right in when I got here. All of the fans make me feel welcome."
Willingham dealing with tiny fracture in wrist
MINNEAPOLIS -- The results of an MRI and CT scan on Josh Willingham's ailing left wrist were announced on Sunday. While the MRI came back clean, the CT scan revealed a tiny fracture on the wrist.
"The CT scan revealed a small fracture of the pisiform bone," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "They are going to consult with some hand specialists to get their counsel on how to proceed. But they do not believe this is anything that's long lasting or long term."
Willingham was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, with the move retroactive to April 7. He sustained the injury after getting hit by a Justin Masterson pitch on April 6.
"It's very uncommon in baseball players," Antony said. "The only reason that happened is because that's exactly where he was hit."
According to the Twins, there's no need for surgery and Willingham won't be in any sort of cast.
"I can't give you a timeline," Antony said. "But we're hopeful when the 15 days are up, he'll be ready to go."
Jackie's Day time for Target Field celebration
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will commemorate the 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier with some special events at Target Field before Tuesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Twins will present a Celebrate Diversity Day in tribute to Robinson's impact on the game and this country. The day will feature a pregame lineup of musical and cultural performances. In addition, Jackie Robinson Essay winners will be presented with awards during a pregame ceremony.
As usual, players from both teams will wear the No. 42 to honor Robinson's legacy. In 1997, Commissioner Bud Selig declared that the No. 42 would be retired throughout all of MLB.
"I think it's great how baseball has come a long ways in understanding how vital he was to this sport and what he meant to this country," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"I can't get enough of watching [the movie '42']," he said, "just because I love baseball movies in the first place. I don't even think that tells you how tough that was for him."
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier sees the day as a way to honor Robinson as well as recognize how far we've come as a society.
"This will be my third year participating in it," Dozier said. "Everybody loves that kind of day. It not only changed the game of baseball, it changed life itself. Everybody is equal in this world. We respect that and we love it. It's pretty cool."
Gardy appreciates close ties with Hirschbeck
MINNEAPOLIS -- As manager Ron Gardenhire returned to the Twins' dugout for Sunday's series finale against the Royals, he reflected on his two days away from the team to attend the funeral for Michael Hirschbeck.
The son of Major League umpire John Hirschbeck, Michael died at 27 from Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a disease that affects the nervous system.
Michael Hirschbeck had a close relationship with Gardenhire and the Twins organization. He served as batboy during Tom Kelly's tenure as manager when his father would be in town for a series.
"It was, as we all know, a really tough situation," Gardenhire said. "The stories were exactly what I knew about Michael. He liked to play jokes on people, liked to prank people. If he had your phone number, you were going to get a lot of phone calls.
"There was a lot of tug at your emotions. He was a good kid, and he touched a lot of people's lives."
When Gardenhire received the news earlier in the week, because of what Michael meant to him, the skipper knew he had to be there.
"There was never a doubt in my mind ... I was going," Gardenhire said. "This kid was very special to me."
As Gardenhire met with the assembled media prior to Sunday's game, he made sure to give credit to the Twins organization for allowing him this personal time.
"It's nice to be back," Gardenhire said. "I appreciate the club letting me do this. It was very important to myself and my wife.
"I'm going to miss those phone calls."
Twins set to maintain depth in pitching staff
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins placed outfielder Josh Willingham on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday, the decision to call up right-hander Michael Tonkin, as opposed to a position player, was made due to the recent innings strain on the bullpen.
But even following deep starts from Kyle Gibson on Friday and Ricky Nolasco on Saturday, plus an off-day on Monday, manager Ron Gardenhire plans on sticking with the 13-man pitching staff for the time being.
"I'm not so much worried about the number," Gardenhire said. "I think the bench with [Darin Mastroianni], [Chris] Hermann and [Eduardo] Escobar is covered. I've got the pinch-runner, the left-handed pinch-hitter, the speed guy, and I've got my infielder.
"I don't mind having that extra pitcher. I said I missed it earlier. The problem is if someone gets dinged up and misses three or four games. Then this gets real thin."
Kerry Walls is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.