MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins left Seattle two days ago, the concern was that the club might have to make three roster moves -- one due to a trade and another two due to injuries. Instead, the only move the club made on Thursday was to call up outfielder Garrett Jones. The Twins held off on making any disabled list decisions on Jason Kubel (strained right oblique) and Jason Bartlett (strained left hamstring), which appeared to be a good decision as both showed improvement on Friday.
The two were still not in the lineup against the Rangers, but the hope is that it shouldn't be more than a couple of days until they both return. Kubel was even considered to be an option for a late-inning pinch-hit situation on Friday if needed. Kubel took early batting practice and was part of his regular hitting group for the first time since straining his oblique muscle on Aug. 11. "He's swinging OK and he looked like at first he was a little tentative, but the more swings he took, the better he did," manager Ron Gardenhire said. Bartlett was back on the field during batting practice on Friday too, testing his leg with some running. Bartlett said the leg felt much better and he hopes that after taking a few days to rest the hamstring he should be back in the starting lineup. The injury comes at an inopportune time for Bartlett. The shortstop has hit .303 over his last 24 games, with five doubles, three triples, two homers and six RBIs. But while taking a few days off could affect his hitting, Bartlett said he wants to make sure he's not rushing back too soon. Although both showed improvement in practice, Gardenhire didn't want to be too optimistic about when they might be back to full health. He felt they wouldn't know exactly how either player will fare with their injuries until they are once again in game situations. "You can do all you want to in practice and all those things, but when you get in a game and the adrenaline's flowing and you let it fly and you're swinging at a guy who's out there throwing 90 mph, you'll find out if your ribs are good," Gardenhire said. "The same with Bartlett and running with his hamstring. Until we get them in game situations, I think we'll just have to wait and see." Getting back to form: Pat Neshek noticed a few weeks ago that his velocity wasn't quite reaching the same levels it had for most of the season. The culprit? A change in Neshek's workout regimen. "I stopped lifting," Neshek said. "Last year when I got to the All-Star break I just kind of sailed through the rest of it. And I was fine. This year I stopped strength training at the time and I started getting weaker and weaker. It got to the point where I was like, 'Gosh, I have to get back in the gym.'" For the past two weeks, Neshek has been in the gym working to regain his strength. Neshek said he started to feel the effects during a rough outing in Anaheim, but it was in Seattle that Neshek said he finally felt like he was back to his old form. His slider hit 91 mph once again and his fastball was back up at 93 mph. But for Neshek, it was getting the velocity in his slider that seemed to make the most difference. "I have a hard break on my slider when it's moving pretty fast," Neshek said. "And when the velocity started going down a bit, that one or two miles per hour was making a difference. Now I've been getting a lot of strikeouts early. I'm glad I figured that out." Memory lane: Gardenhire wasn't a part of the Twins '87 Championship team, but he certainly has a kinship with the group. The Twins skipper had been traded by the Mets to Minnesota following the '86 season. And although he spent the entire year with Portland, the club's Triple-A affiliate, he got to know the group of players pretty well during his time with them in Spring Training. With nearly the entire squad gathered at the Metrodome for the 20th anniversary of the event this weekend, Gardenhire got a chance to see a few of the players on Friday and hoped to catch up with the rest before the end of the series. "It was my last year playing," Gardenhire said of '87. "I got a chance to meet a lot of these guys and hang out with them. It's a very special group that did something very special. It's always fun to have them back in the Twin Cities, and having them all together has got to be fun. The Twin Cities are going to take a hit, I know that." Gardenhire wasn't the only manager in this weekend's series that just missed out on being part of that championship team. Rangers manager Ron Washington played for the Twins from 1981-86, but he was released at the end of Spring Training in '87 when the Twins decided to go with Al Newman as their utility infielder. "It's still a good weekend," Washington said. "It's just nice to see the guys again. I was here when we were getting a tail-whipping and then those guys won a World Series. But that's the way baseball goes. I was here for six years and gave them my heart. I was certainly an influence on a lot of guys. I was there. I may not have been there in body, but I was there." Standing in salute: It was an emotional moment for all those in attendance for Friday night's game when Jeff Reardon was introduced amongst the '87 team. Reardon was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd, which was well aware of the former Twin's plight since the death of his son Shane in 2004. Reardon was joined on the field by his wife and their two other children. They were presented with a check for $100,000 for the Shane Reardon Memorial Foundation. The donation was part of the proceeds raised by the sale of 1,000 '87 Championship bobblehead sets last week. "This is an unbelievable donation," Reardon said. "I would like to thank the Twins fans, especially. I think they are the best fans." Down on the farm: Rochester lost, 5-4, when Buffalo scored four runs in the final two innings of its game on Thursday. Lew Ford and Denard Span both went 2-for-4 and Kevin Slowey pitched seven innings and only gave up one earned run. ... Double-A New Britain beat New Hampshire, 7-3, on Thursday. Trevor Plouffe picked up his 34th double of the season to drive in two runs and Brock Peterson went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. ... Class A Ft. Myers racked up nine runs on 14 hits to beat Tampa, 9-5. Daniel Valencia went 2-for-5, including a triple and three RBIs. Steven Tolleson went 3-for-5 with a double. Coming up: The Twins and Rangers square off for their second of three contests at the Metrodome on Saturday night. Right-hander Boof Bonser (5-9, 4.77) will face off against Rangers right-hander Kameron Loe (5-9, 5.80) in the 6:10 p.m. CT start.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.