BAL@MIN: Guerrier notches his first spring strikeout

CLEVELAND -- Prior to the series finale, the Twins will select the contract of pitcher Matt Guerrier.

Guerrier could have opted out of his contract if he was not on the Major League roster by Thursday, and Minnesota optioned Logan Darnell to Triple-A Rochester rather than lose Guerrier.

Guerrier, who had surgery to repair a flexor mass in his right arm in August and ended last season on the disabled list, has made seven appearances between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester.

In nine innings of work on the rehab trail, Guerrier allowed four runs, walking four and striking out four.

"We're going to take Mattie Guerrier up here and see what happens with him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The guy's worked very hard, he's got good stuff. We'll see how he fits in our bullpen, then work our way from there."

The 35-year-old Guerrier made his Major League debut with the Twins in 2004, and he played in the Twin Cities through 2010.

Darnell dazzled Tuesday in his big league debut, throwing three perfect innings in relief of Samuel Deduno.

"It's tough to do," Gardenhire said of sending Darnell back to the Minors. "We liked what we saw, a good performance by him. He understands. It's just something we've got to do."

Versatile Escobar making himself invaluable

MIN@CLE: Escobar doubles into the gap to score Suzuki

CLEVELAND -- The Twins have known that Eduardo Escobar can play almost any defensive position, but in the last week, Escobar has shown he can swing a good bat as well.

Since April 20, Escobar is hitting .406 (13-for-32), including the game-winning home run in Monday's win over the Indians and an RBI double during a stalled ninth-inning comeback Tuesday.

Starting at left field Wednesday, Escobar has become indispensible for a team dealing with multiple injuries. Escobar was subbed in at shortstop in Monday's win, and he started at third base Tuesday.

"For me, I think I am ready whatever position," Escobar said. "When I can play, I'm going to play. I can play left field, center field, infield, catcher too. That's OK. I like to play."

Escobar has endeared himself to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire not only with his can-do attitude, but also with his work ethic.

"He goes out and shags (fly balls) and does all of his work all of the time," Gardenhire said. "He takes his groundballs and goes into the outfield and runs 'em down, always in early batting practice. He's got the most experience of any of the guys, so he'll be OK."

The way Escobar is hitting, Gardenhire is finding ways to keep Escobar involved. Monday, when Escobar entered in the seventh inning, is the only game in Minnesota's last five that Escobar hasn't started.

"You can put him anywhere, keep wanting to find places for his swing," Gardenhire said. "He can be your everyday shortstop. He fields the ball well enough. He's got a really strong arm. …

"You need versatility, and he brings that to us. He's a pretty uplifting kid, big smile, runs around. Really likes baseball, and it shows."

Mauer slowly improving from back spasms

BAL@MIN: Mauer on leaving game with lower back spasms

CLEVELAND -- Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is closer to his return, but not close enough to be much of an option Wednesday night.

Mauer left Sunday's game in the third inning with back spasms and has not played since.

When asked about the capacity in which Mauer would be available Wednesday night, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire set the bar low.

"Maybe to say hello to," Gardenhire said. "He's going out and maybe try to play some catch. He definitely feels better. We're going to see where we go from there."

Mauer came in Wednesday and wanted to play catch during pregame, which is more than he has been able to do since the weekend.

"First you see what he can do today, the catching and all that," Gardenhire said. "He definitely feels better. We're getting closer, just got to get him to where he is free to move.

"It's a good thing, he came in today and wants to go play a little catch on the field. He didn't want to do that yesterday, so we're moving the right direction."

Officially, Mauer remains day-to-day.

Worth noting

• Gardenhire was pleased with Danny Santana's first Major League start, Tuesday against the Tribe.

Playing at shortstop, Santana threw out Nyjer Morgan to record the game's first out, and in the third, he turned an inning-ending double play.

"He made a great play to start off with," Gardenhire said. "As we see, he's got a cannon, can throw the baseball, but we've known those things. Santana's a nice-looking young player."

• With Mauer out of the lineup this week, Gardenhire has turned to Sam Fuld to hit out of the two-hole.

Fuld's results have been somewhat mixed, but he had two hits and a stolen base in Monday's win.

"I don't think he's the prototype, but he's fast," Gardenhire said. "He can hook a ball. If [leadoff man Brian] Dozier gets on, with a man on on first, he can hook a ball through a hole. We've seen him do that.

Were it not Fuld, Gardenhire said he'd have moved Kurt Suzuki out of the heart of the order, something he hopes to avoid.

"Right now, I see Suzuki down there coming up in a lot of good spots to hit and drive in runs, so why mess with that," Gardenhire said. "He'd be my next option."

Mike Pelfrey, who missed his start Tuesday after suffering a strained groin, will throw another bullpen session Thursday, and he continues to show progress.

Aaron Hicks, who can return from the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday, swung at live pitching Wednesday and had a good lower-body workout.

Josh Willingham, on the disabled list with an injured left wrist, felt good Wednesday after taking 20 swings and doing 20 flip drills.