Notes: Jones warms up at first base

Notes: Jones warms up at first base

MINNEAPOLIS -- In preparation for Interleague Play this week, a few extra items were packed Sunday for the trip to National League cities Phoenix and Los Angeles.

For the first time this year, Twins pitchers packed bats, because they will be hitting.

And right fielder Jacque Jones included three new first baseman's gloves in his luggage, because he could wind up playing first base.

That's correct.

"I'm not afraid to do that at all," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Minnesota has been thin at first base with Justin Morneau out with a sore left elbow. The notion of using Jones became more justified after both Terry Tiffee and Matthew LeCroy muffed routine plays this weekend against the Yankees.

Tiffee was optioned back to Triple-A Rochester after Sunday's 9-3 victory over New York.

Without the designated hitter rule in effect, Gardenhire also wants to keep Lew Ford in the lineup.

"If we don't have Morneau, and four outfielders all swinging good ... you try to find a way to get them all in," Gardenhire said.

Jones never played the position professionally, but played first base as a kid all the way until he started college. On Saturday and Sunday, he worked out at first and took groundballs, and will get more practice early Tuesday afternoon on the natural grass at Bank One Ballpark.

"If I have to play there, I'll play there," Jones said. "Wherever I end up, that's where I end up."

MRI results: Morneau underwent an MRI exam on his elbow Sunday morning and was diagnosed with a small bone spur. The 24-year-old, who entered Sunday's game defensively in the ninth inning, was expected to receive a cortisone shot with his return considered day-to-day.

But with several players missing because of injury this week, displeasure could be sensed from Gardenhire about Morneau's situation. He wasn't alone with his feelings.

"I think some guys need to suck it up and come out and play, to be honest with you," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "We have some guys with injuries and guys that want to play in their spots. We'll see what happens."

Where's triage?: In his three-plus seasons as Twins manager, Gardenhire has gotten used to coping with injuries and makeshift lineups. But even Sunday's situation threw him for a bit of a loop.

Besides being without Morneau, shortstop Juan Castro could not play because he hurt his left ankle when it rolled on him while making a defensive play Saturday. Left fielder Shannon Stewart came to the ballpark limping. He fouled a ball off his calf the night before.

"Today when I got here, it was more extreme than I've ever dealt with," Gardenhire said.

One bright spot was that catcher Joe Mauer's strained left groin felt a little better. Mauer was able to run around before Sunday's game. He was available to play, if needed, and was expected to be ready to start again Tuesday.

A rather unique lineup was in place to offset the losses. Michael Ryan was the DH and leadoff batter. Brent Abernathy was at second base, with Ford starting in left field. Matthew LeCroy was at first base and rookie Luis Rodriguez was the shortstop against Yankees right-hander Kevin Brown.

"That makes it a little more entertaining, trying to figure out what you have here with a sinkerball pitcher going," Gardenhire said.

Williams summoned: The contract of infielder Glenn Williams was selected from Triple-A Rochester after Tiffee was demoted.

Williams, an Australian that can play first, second and third base, was batting .302 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 47 games for the Red Wings.

"National League stuff, we need some versatility," Gardenhire said. "The report is he's playing very good baseball."

To make room for Williams on the 40-man roster, injured pitcher Grant Balfour (right elbow surgery) was transfered to the 60-day disabled list.

Williams was the fourth player called up from Rochester this week, joining Michael Ryan, Abernathy and Tiffee, who was mired in a 3-for-33 slump.

Seeking protection: The injury bug nearly got worse in the second inning of the game when Jones hit a sharp groundball that struck good friend Hunter in the Twins dugout.

Hunter's response? He put on Mike Redmond's catcher's gear for protection.

"Jacque was trying to hit me because I laugh at him so much. He got me back," Hunter said.

Coming up: The Twins start a six-game road trip against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers this week. It starts Tuesday at Bank One Ballpark with Brad Radke pitching for Minnesota against Arizona lefty Shawn Estes.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.