Struggling Twins start 13-game homestand

Knight Ridder Newspapers

MINNEAPOLIS -- One of the bigger weaknesses in the Twins' lineup this season was one of its greatest strengths last year: speed.

With second baseman Luis Rivas on the disabled list because of a fractured forearm and shortstop Cristian Guzman playing through tendinitis in his left knee, the Twins' ability to apply pressure on the base paths has been altered dramatically.

It hurt them over the weekend and throughout the entire road trip. The Tigers beat the Twins 5-4 Sunday to cap a three-game weekend sweep. The Twins returned home Sunday night, after a 1-5 road trip.

The Twins open a 13-game homestand tonight. In it's biggest home stretch of the season, the Twins face Tampa Bay, Detroit, Kansas City and the New York Yankees over a 14-day span.


If they hope to fare well, their speed better improve. So should their health.

Guzman, whose knee began acting up in the last homestand, is not 100 percent despite returning to the lineup Saturday after two days off.

"The hard part is stealing bases," he said. "If I can't push off the knee, I can't run. I try, but…"

; Guzman has been caught stealing more times (four) than he's been successful (three). And some of the plays weren't even close. In the ninth inning Thursday at Tampa Bay, he entered as a pinch runner, tried to steal and was out by five feet.

First-base coach Jerry White, who handles the base runners, said he thought Guzman, who doesn't seem to be having trouble reading pitchers, should have had the steal easily. White was surprised how easily he was thrown out.

"He's not running right," White said.

Another factor that might be slowing Guzman at the end of steal attempts is the fact that since dislocating his left shoulder last year, he has been ordered to slide feet first. "He's used to going in head first," manager Ron Gardenhire said, "so he's learning to do that, too."

Either way, Gardenhire, who gives the green light to base runners, may be a little more conservative in his approach for a while.


Tigers sweep Twins, Page 7D

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