Willingham back in action right off the bat

Willingham back in action right off the bat

CHICAGO -- Josh Willingham is back with the Twins, and there's a good chance he could be seeing plenty of at-bats right away.

After being on the disabled list since July 2, retroactive to July 1, Willingham was activated before the first game of Friday's doubleheader against the White Sox, batting third as the designated hitter. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he'd have to wait and see if Willingham would play the second game as well, but he figures to provide a boost for the Twins in their four games in three days.

The 34-year-old outfielder missed Minnesota's last 33 games after undergoing surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his left knee.

"Once we figured out sort of what the problem was and I realized I couldn't play with it anymore effectively, I think we all agreed it was time to get it cleaned out and start fresh," Willingham said.

Willingham played in a three-game rehab assignment for Triple-A Rochester, going 1-for-9 with a homer and two walks.

"It'll be good. He didn't get many at-bats down there, but it looked like everything was going well," Gardenhire said. "He was running around decent, hit a homer. We'll see how it goes today. First day back, doubleheader, we'll see how he handles that."

Willingham did play in the field with Rochester.

"He was able to run around with that brace on," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He said he feels great, it took a lot of the pressure off the knee, a lot of the stress off. He was scheduled to play a full game yesterday, but we brought him in because of this situation. He said he feels good, ready to go."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.