5/24/2014 9:50 P.M. ET
Escobar seizes control of Twins' shortstop role
By Alex Espinoza / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Confirming what the lineup card has been saying lately, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has declared Eduardo Escobar his everyday shortstop going forward.
"Escy's been swinging the bat great. He's going to end up being the guy here," Gardenhire said. "He's played his way right into it and he's proven that he can go out there on an everyday basis. The only way to prove it is to get your chance and he's proving it now. We sure like having him. He's a lot of fun and always has been. Now he's taking the job and running with it."
Pedro Florimon was the Opening Day shortstop after playing 133 contests there last year, but was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on May 9. Florimon batted .108/.194/.154 with no homers, one RBI and 18 strikeouts in 25 games with the Twins to start the year, but Escobar has been much more productive.
The 25-year-old switch-hitter entered Saturday's contest with a .341/.378/.516 slash line in 33 games with a homer and nine RBIs. He has now started in 11 of the past 12 contests at shortstop since Florimon was demoted.
"[Gardenhire] never told me that I'm the everyday guy," Escobar said. "My mentality is to come to the ballpark ready to play every day. But I'm very happy for my opportunity to play. I think playing every day helps me with my rhythm. I'm concentrating more at the plate, I'm seeing more pitches and I'm working hard in batting practice."
Willingham, Arcia ready to rejoin Twins
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Minnesota lineup will likely feature a lot more pop Monday when the team opens its home series against the Rangers.
A night after Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia helped power the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings to a 7-1 victory, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said both outfielders would likely be added to the active roster following the Giants series.
The skipper expects both players to come back with no limitations.
"Absolutely," Gardenhire said. "They're ready. We wouldn't bring them back if they weren't."
Willingham suffered a wrist injury when he was hit by a pitch April 6 and batted 5-for-24 (.208) in his first seven rehab games. Gardenhire said he's eager to see Willingham return to the fold after enduring knee problems that caused him to spend 35 games on the disabled list last season.
Arcia, who batted .251/.304/.430 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs in 97 contests for the Twins last year, has been with Rochester since returning from his right wrist injury May 14. The 23-year-old went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and four RBIs on Friday while Willingham went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer and two RBIs.
"We're excited to have them healthy now and they're both swinging very well," Gardenhire said. "Willingham is seeing the ball and his timing is looking really good. It's nice to have those two. We'd like to see what it's like having some more pop back in the lineup. These two guys can both hit the ball a long ways."
With Willingham set to reclaim everyday duties in left field and Arcia primed to get back in the rotation, outfielders Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Eduardo Nunez and Chris Parmelee are all candidates to be sent back down to Triple-A.
"Once those two guys get back, it's going to definitely adjust some of the at-bats for some people up here," Gardenhire said. "These guys are going to be playing. We've got [roster] moves. We can do those things. Just means you've got some people that are being sent out that are doing OK here."
Twins want to see more velocity from Pelfrey
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Twins received good news on rehabbing outfielder Josh Willingham on Friday night but the report on right-handed veteran starter Mike Pelfrey wasn't as encouraging.
Even though Pelfrey tossed five scoreless innings for Triple-A Rochester, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out none, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Pelfrey will remain with the Red Wings for the time being.
"His velocity's still not back to where it needs to be," Gardenhire said. "It was at 88-90 miles an hour, somewhere in there. He'll tell you the same thing; he's trying to figure out mechanically what's wrong with his velocity. That's another hurdle that we'll have to clear. Once he gets to the point when he's ready to come back, we'll just have to make a decision."
Friday marked Pelfrey's second rehab start as he tries to return from a groin injury. Gardenhire said the 30-year-old might be shortening his stride, which could be leading to slower pitches. But the skipper also said he's seen countless pitchers come back and add velocity while they rehab, saying it could just be a matter of time.
Pelfrey returned to the Twins on a two-year, $11 million deal this winter but was hit hard in five starts to begin the season, posting an 0-3 record, 7.99 ERA and 1.99 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). For now, Gardenhire said he has no reason to believe Pelfrey is dealing with any other injury or setback.
"His arm feels great," Gardenhire said. "The only person who can tell us if he's hurting is Mike Pelfrey."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.