Notes: Bartlett gets a shot at leadoff

Notes: Bartlett gets a shot at leadoff

MINNEAPOLIS -- Since Luis Castillo was traded to the Mets in July, the Twins have shuffled players in and out of the leadoff position, but they seem to have found a good fit in Jason Bartlett as of late.

Bartlett is only hitting .246 in 57 at-bats in the leadoff spot this season, but he's working counts and distracting the pitcher when he gets on the basepaths.

"I've done it before in my career, but I learned some things from Luis," Bartlett said. "It's not that you have to change your approach or anything, but there are some things where in certain counts or on days when you don't know the pitcher, you might have to take a few more pitches. I'm learning what pitches to attack and what pitches to take."

Bartlett said he learned from Castillo how to work the count to let the players on the bench get a better look at the pitcher.

"He doesn't just go up there swinging at anything," Bartlett said. "Luis is one of the best in the leadoff spot."

Manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn't mind seeing Bartlett back in the leadoff spot for next season, but said he would have to wait to see what kinds of moves the team makes in the offseason. The leadoff spot is not exactly a hole that the Twins need to fill, but Gardenhire said if they acquire someone who fills another need and can hit leadoff, Bartlett would get a chance at the spot.

"Well, we have to get through the winter," Gardenhire said. "First, you have to see what you have, and then you go from there. [Bartlett] has been fine there. Since Luis left, he's been the best one. I don't have a problem with it."

Even with Alexi Casilla in the lineup for Friday's game, Gardenhire elected to go with Bartlett in the leadoff spot.

"I like Barty where he's at. Casilla can maybe bunt him over when he gets on, we'll see if he can fundamentally execute."

Give him a chance: With lefty Mark Buehrle on the mound for the White Sox on Friday, Gardenhire put Matthew LeCroy in the lineup as the designated hitter.

"I think Matty's been waiting for this day since he got back up here," Gardenhire said. "I think he envisioned Buehrle pitching and he actually has numbers off him, so we've got Matty in there."

In 50 career at-bats against Buehrle, LeCroy has 16 hits, including a double and four home runs. LeCroy has also drawn six walks off of Buehrle.

"I get to play, and start and face a guy like Buehrle. I've done decent against him and had some good battles," LeCroy said. "I mainly played against lefties anyway, but it's just a good time to get back and get in the lineup for the first time. We'll see what happens."

From the other dugout: Before Friday's series opener, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen shared his thoughts about the tumultuous year the Twins have had and what he thinks they will be like in the future.

"Those guys there, they are spoiled. They are spoiled because they have been so good for so many years," Guillen said. "Bringing a lot of talent from the Minors and putting a team together for a long time -- it's all about pitching, and they show that right there."

Guillen, who did the Twins a favor when he coined their "piranhas" nickname, joked that if the Twins lose both Torii Hunter and Johan Santana in the offseason, he might have to come up with a new moniker for them.

"If you no have Hunter and Santana, wow, good luck," Guillen said. "Santana is a key for that ballclub. Every time he's on the mound, you have a chance to win. Hunter, that's a different scenario. Like I say, they always bring people from the Minors and they always have someone to come up and do a tremendous job. You never count the Minnesota Twins out. You never do. They will always be fighting.

"They are going to come from piranhas to little sardines. No, they will find someone. Believe me, they are loaded in the Minors. They should find someone else."

Thank you: Friday kicked off Fan Appreciation Weekend at the Metrodome. A highlight reel of the season's best plays was screened before the game, and at the conclusion, the Twins came out of the dugout to tip their caps to the fans.

"It's a long season and we're playing out this string as hard as we can," Gardenhire said of the season's final games. "To see the fans come in here, you want to say thank you, obviously for the ones that have come out and supported you, in the good and bad. And that's very important for myself and my players, to say thank you. We try to do it as best as we can."

Twins tidbits: The MRI on Mike Redmond's left middle finger showed no tears or fractures, meaning Redmond just has severely strained ligaments. Redmond said he'll likely rest the finger for six to eight weeks before he starts any kind of rehab. ... Rondell White was not at the ballpark on Friday because his wife was induced into labor. ... The Twins' pitching staff did not allow a walk in its win over the Rangers on Wednesday night for the 20th time this season. The 20 games with no walks are the most by any staff in the Major Leagues. ... Nick Punto has 16 hits in his 48 September at-bats after tallying just nine hits in 71 at-bats in August.

Up next: The Twins continue their last home series of the season with the White Sox at 11:10 a.m. CT on Saturday. Scott Baker (9-8, 4.15) will take the mound for the Twins while Javier Vazquez (12-8, 3.83) will start for the Sox.

Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.