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Hamstring keeps Punto sidelined

Hamstring keeps Punto sidelined

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' bench was short one player on Friday night because of some lingering soreness in Nick Punto's left hamstring.

Punto was a scratch from Thursday's starting lineup in Chicago due to some cramping in the hamstring. He arrived at the ballpark on Friday still feeling a bit sore, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it could be a couple days before Punto might be ready for game action.

"It's a day-to-day thing with him," Gardenhire said. "Whether he's going to be able to get back out there today or tomorrow, we'll have to wait and see. But he's sore right now."

Due to the team's limited power so far this season -- the Twins' 17 home runs rank last in the Majors -- Gardenhire said he's been trying to mix Punto and fellow utility infielder Matt Tolbert into the lineup more often to at least give the team more speed on the basepaths.

"It seems like a little more energy," Gardenhire said of when the two players are in the lineup. "When you're not hitting a lot of home runs at this point in the season, you better be able to run a little bit. ... Those two have been out there running around and stealing bases and are very active defensively. That's why we're trying to move them in there as much as we can."

Gardenhire did mix Tolbert into Friday's lineup, starting him at third base. It's the third consecutive day that Tolbert has started at the position in place of Mike Lamb, and all three of those games have featured the Twins facing left-handed starting pitchers.

Lamb is hitting just .071 in 14 at-bats against lefties this season. He spent the last four seasons as a platoon player with the Astros, rarely facing lefties. And Gardenhire acknowledged while he still feels OK to play Lamb against left-handers, he's been hesitant lately to do that due to Lamb's struggles.

"Lamber has been struggling a bit at the plate, so I'd rather have him seeing right-handers rather than lefties until he starts getting his swing going," Gardenhire said. "And then we'll go from there."

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

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