8/13/2014 1:28 A.M. ET
Nolasco penciled in to rejoin rotation Friday
Veteran right-hander has been out since early July with sore elbow
By Richard Dean / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Ricky Nolasco is the probable starter Friday night for the Twins, manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday. Minnesota opens a four-game series that night against the Royals, who acquired Josh Willingham from Minnesota in a trade Monday.
In Nolasco's last rehab assignment on Sunday at Class A Cedar Rapids, the right-hander went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs.
"Hopefully, everything went well so far. A possibility starting Friday," said Gardenhire. "My pitching coach [Rick Anderson] has slotted him in there if everything is good.
"He's got to throw a side [session]. Once he goes through all that, hopefully, that's what we're going to do.
Nolasco will throw the bullpen session in Minnesota. He will be on a pitch count in his next start.
"I would image we would probable keep him to 80, 85 [pitches] his next time out," said Gardenhire. "But his arm feels great, everything's strong. I'm sure he'll probably fight the whole system because I think he feels he's really ready to go.
"We'll look to start at 80 and work our way up from there. Depends on how it goes, if it's hard innings or easy innings."
Gardenhire said the Twins will not go to a six-man rotation.
Nolasco was placed on the disabled list with right elbow soreness July 8, retroactive to July 7. In 18 starts this season, he's 5-7 with a 5.90 ERA.
Arcia homers twice in return from back issue
HOUSTON - There was nothing wrong with Oswaldo Arcia's back Tuesday night.
The Twins right fielder homered twice in a 10-4 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Arcia, who has been dealing with a lower back issue, had not played since Friday against Oakland. In that game, he tweaked his back taking a swing in his last at-bat.
On Tuesday, Arcia, batting in the seventh hole, homered in his first at-bat in the second inning off Collin McHugh. In the ninth, Arcia hit a two-run home run off Michael Foltynewicz, who earlier in the inning gave up Kennys Vargas' second homer of the year.
With the two home runs, Arcia has 10 this season.
"Coming off the back, he' still a little stiff. But he wants to play," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after the game. "He got one early and then got that one late. Didn't try to do too much with either one of them. Put the barrel on the ball.
"Vargas has been scuffling along here. Same thing. He put the barrel on it. Both went in the seats. They're big strong guys."
Arcia's availability this week had been up in the air.
"He came in today, said he was fine, great," Gardenhire said before the game. "He took swings in the cage yesterday, but he really hasn't done a lot of defensive work. But he comes in saying he's fine, I want him in the outfield, so I put him out there.
"He told me he's fine, he told the trainers he's fine. He really wants to play. Good enough for me."
Escobar at short, Santana in center -- for now
HOUSTON -- Eduardo Escobar is Minnesota's starting shortstop as of now. And as good as rookie Danny Santana is playing center field, shortstop is Santana's position.
"Ultimately we see [Santana] as our shortstop," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
With the Twins picking up outfielder Jordan Schafer off waivers Aug. 3 from Atlanta, Santana isn't needed as much to play center field, even though on Tuesday, Gardenhire raved about Santana's play in the outfield.
"That's another part of the problem, Escobar is playing so well I don't want to move him," said Gardenhire. "And Santana is playing center field so well. But I know I have to get some reps at shortstop for him.
"We're still trying to figure how things will play out as we go along and I want to get people in the right places. Santana's future is going to be there [shortstop], but Escobar is playing so darn good, and defensively, too, that I want to keep both in the lineup, and that's what we've been doing."
Santana was in center field Tuesday night against the Astros and Escobar was at shortstop. In Monday's 4-2 win over the Astros, Santana had three hits, raising his average to .322, and Escobar's two doubles gave him 31 for the season.
Santana has made 16 starts at shortstop and 38 starts in center field this season. Escobar has made 62 starts at shortstop.
When Santana moves to shortstop, Escobar will be shifted around the infield.
Santana will play some shortstop during the next homestand, which starts Friday night.
"We're going to definitely put him in there," said Gardenhire. "Play him there and just move the other guys around."
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.