Punto expected to return Friday

Punto expected to return Friday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins third baseman Nick Punto, who has been battling a strained left ring finger, is expected to return to the starting lineup for Friday's series opener against the Rangers.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Punto took part in all of his typical pregame activities -- taking some swings in the cage and fielding ground balls -- on Thursday and reported that his finger was feeling better. Punto had a cortisone injection in the middle knuckle of the finger on Sunday.

"I'm sure he'll be in the lineup [on Friday], unless something happens between now and then," Gardenhire said.