MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Justin Morneau will see time at first base before Interleague Play starts in mid-May, but wouldn't give a specific date for Morneau's return to the infield.
Morneau was penciled in at designated hitter for the eighth straight game on Saturday against the Rangers, and hasn't played first base since starting there on March 13 in Spring Training. But Gardenhire said that Morneau will start at first before the Twins head to Milwaukee on May 18, when they don't have the luxury of using a designated hitter.
"We'll get him out there, believe me," Gardenhire said. "It'll be before Milwaukee. We don't want him going out there cold turkey in a National League game. But we've got time."
Morneau has been taking infield before every game, and said he also expects to be play some first base before that series in Milwaukee.
"I've been over there, trying to keep myself in shape, my legs in shape, and to stay sharp for whenever I get out there," Morneau said. "It's just a matter of time."
Morneau entered Saturday's game hitting .231 with a homer and two doubles, and said he's still trying to adjust to serving as designated hitter. He said Thursday that he plans on calling former Twins DH Jim Thome for advice.
"I don't want to go down [into the cage] and swing every inning and end up doing more than I would if I were actually in the game, so it's different," Morneau said. "I need to take enough to stay loose but not take too much. I'm trying to find the right balance. ... "For the most part the goal is just to stay warm and stay in the game, and not feel like you're pinch-hitting four times in a game."
Twins claim Thomas off waivers, option Revere
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins claimed outfielder Clete Thomas off waivers from the Tigers, the club announced Saturday. To make room for Thomas on the 40-man roster, the Twins transferred right-hander Scott Baker to the 60-day disabled list and for the 25-man roster they optioned outfielder Ben Revere to Triple-A Rochester.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the club made the move because Thomas adds versatility as an extra outfielder and Revere needs consistent playing time at Triple-A.
"We saw a good player, no doubt, but it's also part of the equation that you can't let a guy like Revere sit on the bench," Ryan said. "He's suited to play center and be a leadoff-type guy and catalyst. Thomas is more suited to be a fourth or fifth outfielder."
Revere, 23, hit .267 with a team-high 34 stolen bases as a rookie last year, but started just three games in right field this year, batting .182 in 11 at-bats.
"I'll go down and get more at-bats and they say it should help my game more," Revere said. "I won't be down there on the bench. So it's fine with me."
Thomas, 28, is a career .253 hitter with eight homers, 22 doubles, four triples and five stolen bases in 145 games with the Tigers. He appeared in three games with the Tigers this season, but didn't have any plate appearances before he was designated for assignment on April 12.
Thomas played with Triple-A Toledo last year, hitting .251 with 12 homers, 15 doubles and 20 stolen bases in 113 games. He's a career .267 hitter with 41 homers, 125 doubles and 23 triples in 593 games in the Minors.
Thomas, who will join the team on Sunday at Target Field and wear No. 36, has seen time at all three outfield positions during his career. He was originally drafted by the Twins in the fifth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, but didn't sign.
"He's a guy we've liked for a while," Ryan said. "We've got a good look at him over the years, playing against him some. He can play left, center and right. He can run, has some power and can throw. So we took advantage of a waiver claim. But unfortunately, we had to send down Ben. But he wasn't playing here and is behind Span right now and it just doesn't work."
Gardenhire impressed in studying Darvish
MINNEAPOLIS -- Even though the Twins didn't know too much about Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish before he took the mound on Saturday at Target Field, they still prepared for facing him the same way they do all other pitchers.
The Twins studied video of Darvish's first start of the year against the Mariners. He struggled in that outing, allowing seven of the first eight batters he faced to reach before settling down. He still ended up surrendering five earned runs over 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win.
"It's just video," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's all you can do. You can read the report, but there's not much you can go on from the report either. It's just one game. You throw out that first inning and try to work from there to see what he did after that."
Darvish is one of the more intriguing players in baseball, as he dominated while with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, posting a career 1.99 ERA and winning two Pacific League MVP Awards. The Rangers paid a hefty price to bring him to the Majors, winning the rights to sign him to a six-year, $56 million deal with a posting fee of more than $51 million.
Gardenhire said he didn't even realize Darvish, who reportedly throws six different pitches, was 6-foot-5. But after watching the video, Gardenhire said he came away impressed with Darvish.
"He's got all the pitches," Gardenhire said. "He's very athletic, has great stuff, and a great changeup. I saw his changeup just falling off the table. They said he was a little excited in his first start, but we know this guy's a very good pitcher."
Inflamed shoulder shelves prospect Gutierrez
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins pitching prospect Carlos Gutierrez left Friday's game with Triple-A Rochester with shoulder inflammation and will be reevaluated by doctors on Monday, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Saturday.
Gutierrez, the club's first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, left the game after surrendering a three-run homer to Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks in the sixth inning.
"He got a couple of outs, so I don't know if he felt on a pitch or over the course of the inning," Ryan said. "So we'll find out more on Monday."
Gutierrez, a hard-throwing reliever, has a 9.00 ERA in four innings so far this season. He has a career 4.13 ERA in the Minors with 234 strikeouts in 325 innings.
Hrbek statue unveiled at Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins unveiled a bronze statue of former first baseman Kent Hrbek prior to Saturday's game against the Rangers at Target Field.
The unveiling of the statue took place outside Gate 14 -- named in his honor after his retired jersey number -- and featured several special guests including Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, former manager Tom Kelly and former Twins players Tony Oliva, Dan Gladden and Al Newman.
The statue depicts Hrbek leaping in the air after the Twins won the World Series over the Cardinals in seven games.
"This is a great day, and I want to thank my family, my friends, the Pohlad family and everybody involved that wears a Twins uniform, every fan out there that has a Twins hat and Twins jersey on," Hrbek said during the unveiling ceremony. "I don't know what else I can thank them for, because they've pretty much done everything for Kent Hrbek, and Kent Hrbek appreciates everything."
Hrbek's statue is the seventh outside Target Field, and joins statues of Rod Carew, Calvin Griffith, Carl and Eloise Pohlad, Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew and Oliva.
Hrbek, a native of Bloomington, played his entire 14-year career with the Twins from 1981-1994. Hrbek won two World Series titles with the Twins in '87 and '91, and was named an All-Star in '82. He had his number retired by the Twins on Aug. 13, 1995.