5/5/2014 8:11 P.M. ET
Deduno hoping to re-establish identity as starter
By Stephen Ellsesser / Special to MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Samuel Deduno doesn't just want to stick in the Twins' rotation. Being a starting pitcher is his identity. It's how he sees himself as a baseball player.
Deduno's road back to the rotation culminates Tuesday, when he will make his first start of 2014. Deduno ended the season on the disabled list after leaving with right shoulder soreness on Aug. 30 against the Royals.
He had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Sept. 18, and before Mike Pelfrey went on the DL, Deduno was working out of the bullpen. He heard the speculation that he would stay there, but Deduno has other plans.
"I am very excited," Deduno said of returning to the rotation. "I've been doing it for all my career, starting pitching."
When it comes to his aspirations to stay in the rotation, Deduno's on the same page as his skipper.
"We love his stuff," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Now, it's just going to be about throwing it over. He'll have a routine now."
Pelfrey, on the 15-day DL with a strained groin, is continuing to show improvement. Nonetheless, Gardenhire sounds like a man who is prepared to give Deduno a chance to re-establish himself as a starter.
"We worried about that at Spring Training, coming off surgery, so we put him in the bullpen," Gardenhire said. "I guess we'll find out whether his shoulder will be able to take throwing every fifth day. That's what we'll find out, with longer stints and more pitches."
Mauer sits Monday, listed day to day
CLEVELAND -- Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was out of the lineup a day after leaving with back spasms Sunday against the Orioles.
Minnesota's All-Star first baseman left in the top of the third inning Sunday. Mauer received treatment from the training staff before Monday's game, and the team announced that he was feeling and moving better.
Although Mauer was not available Monday, he is considered day-to-day.
"He actually walked in standing straight up, and that was a good thing, 'cause yesterday he was bent over a little," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire had little concern about the potential for Mauer's sore back to linger.
"He's had spasms before," Gardenhire said. "We just have to ride it out, let the trainers do their thing.
"I think if you've had back problems, we all understand that. It's a spasm, not some kind of crooked-spine thing."
Chris Colabello took Mauer's place at first base on Monday. Outfielder Sam Fuld hit second in Mauer's usual spot in the lineup.
Plouffe looks for continued success vs. Tribe
CLEVELAND -- Usually a tough out when he faces the Indians, Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe is hoping to celebrate Cinco de Mayo just like he did last year.
Last May 5, Plouffe hit a two-run homer off Corey Kluber as the Twins beat Cleveland 4-2. Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that celebrates Mexico's victory in the Battle of Puebla, is celebrated in Mexico and many parts of the United States.
The Twins won't face Kluber on this swing through Cleveland, but Plouffe, a .308 hitter in his last 24 games against the Tribe, will look to continue his success at the plate at Progressive Field, where he is a .345 lifetime hitter (29-for-84), with six home runs, nine doubles and 16 runs.
"Any time you get to face pitchers more often than others, you'll have a good chance to establish a better game plan against them," Plouffe said of his success against Cleveland. "It has something to do with the ballpark. Certain guys see better at different parks, and this is one I see better than others."
Plouffe has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games at Progressive Field, and he has the sixth-best batting average at the park since the start of 2011.
"I don't think there's any one thing that I can say specifically [that brings out my best against the Indians]," Plouffe said. "I don't know the numbers, but familiarity is big."
• Designated hitter Josmil Pinto is hitless so far in the month of May, and Gardenhire said he thinks Pinto is overthinking his approach.
"Maybe he's trying to be too professional of a hitter ... trying to do too many things, take all these pitches, draw walks," Gardenhire said. "I think they start reading how good we're taking walks and sometimes they forget you got to hit. It looked to me like he's taking a lot of good pitches."
Gardenhire also would like to see Pinto use his whole body in his swing.
"It's a mechanical thing, got a little flat-footed," Gardenhire said. "He wasn't using anything to rotate through the ball. He's got to get back to using his legs."
• Left fielder Josh Willingham, on the DL with a left wrist contusion, is still sore and did not make the trip to Cleveland.
The team announced that Willingham did some light swinging in the batting cages on Monday, and that he took on a normal workload.
• Aaron Hicks, on the seven-day concussion disabled list, felt good Monday and was back to work.
Hicks played catch and did some light hitting. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.
Stephen Ellsesser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.