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Pitchers keep mood light during batting practice

Pitchers keep mood light during batting practice

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins pitchers have been taking batting practice and participating in baserunning drills this week to get ready for Interleague Play in San Diego and San Francisco next week.

The Twins face the Padres on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading north to play the Giants for a three-game series that begins Friday.

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The Twins have two pitchers with plenty of experience at the plate, as veterans Kevin Correia and Ricky Nolasco played exclusively in the National League before joining the Twins. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he had been most impressed by the swing of Phil Hughes, who was launching homers during batting practice.

"I could DH him, and I'd be comfortable," Gardenhire said, joking. "He looks like he can really swing it."

Hughes, though, is 0-for-6 in his career at the plate, with two strikeouts and two sacrifice bunts. But he said he enjoyed taking batting practice with his teammates, as the pitchers joke with one another about their skills at the plate.

"It's always fun to play in Interleague and have competitions and make fun of each other," Hughes said. "So it's nice to take BP every now and then. BP is a different story. I don't even have a hit in Interleague. I guess my BP skills play above everything."

The Twins are also expected to make a roster move before Interleague play begins, as Gardenhire wants an extra bat on his bench with the pinch-hitting and double switches that come without having the luxury of having a designated hitter. The Twins have a 13-man pitching staff, and the move is expected to come after Sunday's game against the Mariners once Gardenhire meets with assistant general manager Rob Antony.

"That remains our goal," Gardenhire said. "We'll see how everything goes. It'll probably be tomorrow. I'll talk to Rob tonight or tomorrow. We've already had discussions. He knows I want that extra bench guy for the National League."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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