Gardenhire making do with injuries

Gardenhire making do with injuries

MINNEAPOLIS -- Third baseman Joe Crede is back in the lineup for the Twins on Thursday after missing the past three games with a bruised hand.

Crede took batting practice Wednesday for the first time since getting hit in the hand by a pitch on Sunday against Milwaukee. He'll start at third Thursday for the Twins in the series finale against the Red Sox.

Jason Kubel will get the start in right field after being bothered by a sore knee. Kubel was held out of the first three games of Minnesota's current home stand but has been the designated hitter the past three games.

"Kubel said he's fine,"manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I called him over and asked him, 'How we doing?' He said he's good. I said, 'Right field?' and he said, 'Yeah, that's easier than left.'"

Gardenhire also said infielder Nick Punto has a sore groin and won't be in the lineup Thursday. Punto has committed errors in each of the past two games, which Gardenhire thought might be linked to the injury.

"I think the last one was, [on Wednesday] night for sure," Gardenhire said of Punto's first-inning error Wednesday. "I think that one had something to do with coming across. I think that got him a little bit. ... Knowing [Punto], he's been playing with it and probably has had something to do with all of his throws."

Gardenhire's squad is nearing the end of a span of 20 games in 20 days, culminating with this weekend's road series against Tampa Bay. The daily grind has left several of his players banged and bruised, often making it difficult for him to fill out the lineup.

"There have been days when I've only had one guy off the bench," Gardenhire said. "You go through this and when you only have four extra players, you know you're going to have some issues."

One of the issues Gardenhire's had to deal with has been deciding when and where to play Joe Mauer. The Twins catcher is listed as the designated hitter Thursday, meaning the veteran Mike Redmond will be behind the plate.

"It's a really tough decision, because I have both my catchers in there," Gardenhire said. "First I went to check with Joe to see how he's feeling. He says, 'I'll catch if you want me to; I'll DH.' He told me DH would probably be the best bet."

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