Notes: Castro gets the nod at short

Notes: Castro gets the nod at short

MINNEAPOLIS -- The decision to go with Juan Castro as his starting shortstop wasn't a terribly difficult one for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

Gardenhire had one specific goal in mind for his defense this season, and that was to solidify what often was a shaky middle infield last season.

"We need to be strong up the middle and we weren't there last year," Gardenhire said. "That was the one thing we're going to do, put people in there that know how to play and catch the ball."

So far, the skipper hasn't had too much to complain about.

While the Twins offense has gotten most of the attention over the past two games, the defense has certainly been doing its part as well, thanks in large part to Castro and new second baseman Luis Castillo.

"I know for a fact that if I put those two out there, they are going to handle all the situations," Gardenhire said. "They are going to catch the balls supposed to catch and make the plays that we need made in the right spots. That's very important."

Though Gardenhire knew he would be getting a solid glove from Castro, it's been a bit of a surprise to see his offense so strong. In seven games, Castro is hitting .318 (7-for-22) -- a little better than his career .230 average.

"He's put as good of swings on it as anybody," Gardenhire said.

Quality lacking: Eight games into the season and the Twins still have yet to get a quality start out of their rotation.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Twins have never been this far into the season without a quality start since the team moved to Minnesota.

Despite the rarity of the situation, it's not something that concerns Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson.

"That doesn't bother me at all because I know they'll get it going," Anderson said. "The last two nights, we got seven innings out of both of our starters, and you can see them getting more consistent."

New man in third: The Twins lineup had a bit of a surprise on Thursday when catcher Mike Redmond was slotted in the third spot.

Redmond filled in at the slot a few times in Spring Training and had some success. Part of the reason for the move, Gardenhire said, is to keep the disruption in the lineup at a minimum. The Twins manager talked with Redmond about the move, and the catcher had been a part of a similar situation during his time with the Marlins.

"It's not a bad idea," Gardenhire said of putting Redmond in Joe Mauer's traditional slot. "He seems to put together good at-bats, so I don't mind it. I'd rather have him up there. When he comes up with men on, he knows what he's doing."

Twins tidbits: Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek is expected to return to the team on Friday following hernia surgery. ... Gardenhire started Nick Punto at shortstop Thursday and Michael Cuddyer got the nod in right field. ... Joe Mauer has hit safely in a team-high six consecutive games. During the streak, he is batting .391 with two walks, two doubles and five RBIs.

Down on the farm: Dennys Reyes allowed only three hits and struck out four in Triple-A Rochester's 16-inning, 4-3 victory over Pawtucket on Wednesday. Shortstop Jason Bartlett was 1-for-5 with two RBIs in the game. ... Glen Perkins gave up one run on four hits while striking out five over two innings in Double-A New Britain's 2-1 victory over Portland on Wednesday. Denard Span was 2-for-4 in the game with a stolen base.

Quotable: "I don't think anybody can be rooted for any harder around here. He's a pretty classy guy, roots for everyone else and everyone wants to see him do well." -- Gardenhire, on Rondell White's struggles at the plate

Coming up: The Twins will host the Yankees for a three-game series starting with a 7:10 p.m. CT game on Friday. Scott Baker will get the start for Minnesota as he faces off against New York's Mike Mussina.

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