ANAHEIM -- Danny Valencia was held out of Twins' starting lineup on Wednesday because of a stiff back, giving Trevor Plouffe his first Major League appearance at third base.
Valencia started feeling the stiffness during Tuesday's 4-0 loss to the Angels and was held out of action for precautionary reasons. Valencia actually wanted to stay in the lineup, as he's 3-for-12 with two homers off Angels ace and Tuesday starter Jered Weaver in his career.
"Danny's definitely available for the game if I need him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We gave him some Weaveritis medicine and he should be fine. But he did make it known that he has two home runs off him. Nah, he's got a stiff back. He was hurting last night during the game."
Plouffe, meanwhile, has played 76 games at third base in the Minors, and said he's comfortable playing there despite not having any Major League experience.
"I've played more games there than I have than the outfield," Plouffe said. "You've got to catch the ball and throw it to first base. I worked there yesterday and I've been getting ready for it. I feel like I'm prepared. I know the bunt plays. It's my job to play anywhere so I'm ready."
Plouffe said his experience as a shortstop makes the transition easier, as the throw across the diamond is about the same.
"The left side of the infield is similar," Plouffe said. "When you move over to the other side, it's a little different. So third base is kind of the same throw. It's just different assignments like with bunts and cutoffs. But it's my job to feel like I can play anywhere."
Morneau back with team, but return uncertain
ANAHEIM -- Twins designated hitter Justin Morneau rejoined the team on Wednesday, a day after he flew to Minnesota to have his sore left wrist examined by hand specialist Thomas Varecka.
Morneau received good news from the doctor, as an MRI exam showed only inflammation and some fluid in his wrist. The Twins remain hopeful he can return to the lineup on Friday against the Mariners in Seattle, after Thursday's off-day, but he said he has to see how his wrist responds.
"Everything structurally looked good," Morneau said. "He's not sure exactly on how long until it'll be better. It's hard to say. It just needs to get to the point where it's tolerable and not something that lingers. How many days that is, I don't know. We're going to take today off, the off-day, and come back and see how it is on Friday. I have no idea how it's going to feel."
Morneau added that he was told by Varecka that this shouldn't be a problem throughout the season, as it's a common setback for those who have undergone wrist surgery. Morneau had a tendon in the back of his wrist stabilized last September.
Morneau said it was the sheath around the tendon that tightened up in his wrist, but that it should loosen with time.
"He said it should return to normal; it's just the body's natural reaction," Morneau said. "He said he was surprised this was the first time I've had any problems with it. He was surprised I didn't get something sooner. It's pretty common with this surgery. I don't think he was pleased because it's not nothing, but pleased as far as everything structurally, how everything was fixed, everything's where it needs to be, and that's a positive for sure."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was happy to have Morneau back with the club even though he didn't swing or work out with the team on Wednesday. "He'll be fine," Gardenhire said. "He got everything checked out. Let him get his treatment and all those things. He's not going to swing today. And we'll get back Friday and see how he's doing Friday, with the possibility of getting in Friday. We'll just see how he feels."
Thomas taking steps to cut down on strikeouts
ANAHEIM -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said outfielder Clete Thomas has been working to shorten his swing, as he's struggled to make contact since joining the club on April 15.
Thomas, who was claimed off waivers from the Tigers, entered Wednesday's game against the Angels hitting just .160 with 15 strikeouts in 25 at-bats. He also has struck out in 14 of his last 17 at-bats.
"He's been working on it in BP, and I don't know, it just doesn't look like he's seeing the ball real good," Gardenhire said. "I'm sure it's on his mind, so when you start thinking about those things, then the reverse happens, so hopefully he'll go up there and just be hacking away and see what happens. He's been working on shortening it up, and shooting the ball the other way."
Despite his struggles, Thomas was back in the lineup Wednesday night after going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Tuesday's loss. Thomas went a week in between starts before he started Tuesday night against the Angels.
"The only way he's going to get through it is to play a little bit here," Gardenhire said. "You can't get through it staying on the bench, so you give him a couple days, but you've still gotta get back in there, and you've gotta take some swings. That's how you get out of those things."