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Mientkiewicz a real pain on the bench

MINNEAPOLIS -- When; Twins manager Ron Gardenhire arrived at the Metrodome on Wednesday morning, there was a note on his desk from first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.

"A big note," Gardenhire said. "It said, 'I want to play.' It had another word in it, but..."

Gardenhire didn't want the conversation to get an "R" rating so he didn't repeat the word.

The note, as it turned out, was as persuasive as it was suited mostly for an adult audience. Mientkiewicz played after missing six games with a strained ligament in his left wrist.

It would be nice to report he was the hero of the game, but it wouldn't be true.

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Mientkiewicz went 1 for 5 in the Twins' 6-5 loss to the Texas Rangers. He hit a single in the eighth inning. In the ninth he lofted a shot to centerfield that had fans on their feet -- screaming and thinking that maybe it was headed out and would tie the game. Instead, the ball disappeared into Calvin Murray's glove to end the game.

"I knew (it wasn't going out) in that part of the park," Mientkiewicz said. "I would've had to kill one."

It stinks to lose, but Mientkiewicz liked that he was back in the lineup. He also likes that third baseman Corey Koskie is expected back Friday night in Anaheim, and that the Twins' disabled list may finally be shrinking.

"We've only played 12 innings together," Mientkiewicz said of what was supposed to be the Twins' starting lineup. Injuries to him and Koskie, second baseman Luis Rivas, designated hitter David Ortiz, shortstop Cristian Guzman and right fielder Brian Buchanan have severely limited their time on the field together.

Even so, the Twins kept from crumbling and stayed in first place in the American League Central.

"The other guys have done a great job," Mientkiewicz said. "They played their butts off."

Speaking of butts, it gnawed at Mientkiewicz that his was bolted to the bench during Tuesday's 8-2 victory over the Rangers. He was nagging Gardenhire to get him back out there.

"I'm a pain in his butt," Mientkiewicz said. "I was begging to come in. I was hurt, but you want to be part of it."

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Mientkiewicz was in so much pain he couldn't brush his teeth or put on his glove or swing a bat normally.

Then he received a cortisone shot and began to feel better. Much better. "It's the best thing since aspirin," he said.

Last Thursday, as the Twins traveled from Kansas City to New York to play the Yankees, Mientkiewicz returned to Minnesota for that cortisone shot. He figured he'd meet the team in New York but was told to stay put.

Not what he wanted to hear.

For one thing, he wanted desperately to be with the team. Then there was the problem with his car and apartment. He didn't have keys for either, and his wife, Jodi, already was on her way to New York when he got word to remain in Minnesota.

So, he rented a car and broke into his apartment. Once inside, he began to scour the Internet looking for flights to New York.

"I can't sit there watching games," Mientkiewicz said.

If his wrist holds up and nothing else happens to him, that won't be a problem.

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Bob Sansevere is a columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press

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