video thumbnail

MIN@PHI: Hughes fans Utley

After dropping the first two games to the White Sox, including Wednesday's wild back-and-forth affair that ended when Leury Garcia scored on Samuel Deduno's wild pitch, the Twins will turn to Phil Hughes in Thursday's finale at U.S. Cellular Field.

Minnesota will hope for a long outing from Hughes in his Twins debut to preserve a taxed bullpen that has logged 6 2/3 innings through two games.

Hughes spent his first seven seasons with the Yankees, several of them plagued by injuries. He had one of his poorest seasons as a pro last season, going 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA while managing just 145 2/3 innings. As the Twins' No. 3 starter, Hughes will have a chance to resurrect his own career while the organization tries to revive its old formula for success.

"It's a little bit different atmosphere," said Hughes of the Twins' clubhouse. "Everybody is out there in the dugout pulling for each other. It's a young team, so we're going to have to stick together when the times get tough. It's something that can be tough sometimes, but we're going to go through some bad stretches and we'll have to get through those things."

Designated hitter/outfielder Jason Kubel has returned to the Twins after two seasons spent primarily with the D-backs and briefly with the Indians. Kubel, who came up with Minnesota late in 2004 and played regularly from 2006-11, was a part of four of Minnesota's six American League Central titles, and he said the Twins were seldom picked to win the division.

In other words, projections don't really matter.

"We know what we've got here," Kubel said. "We know we've got a few guys back and some guys are still here that have been here when we were winning for all those years and know what it takes."

For now, Kubel and his teammates would be happy just to get in the win column. They'll have to go through left-hander Jose Quintana, who is making his first start since signing a five-year extension more than two weeks ago.

"I feel really happy about that and the White Sox support for me, and this contract," he said. "I have a lot of responsibility for my team. I want the best for them and play hard every five days when I pitch."

Twins: Pinto to make first start a catcher Thursday

Highly-rated catching prospect Josmil Pinto will make his first start behind the plate Thursday, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The Twins want Pinto to keep working on his defense, but it's difficult to keep the 25-year-old out of the lineup because of his offensive abilities. He hit .342 in 86 at-bats last season and had a .309/.400/.482 slash line in 456 at-bats across two Minor League levels.

"We'll just kind of mix and match," Gardenhire said. "I want Pinto in there as much as I possibly can, but Kurt Suzuki's our starter."

Pinto took ground balls at first base before Wednesday's game, but with a catcher's mitt, an old drill for catchers.

"I'm not making him take ground balls because we're going to all of a sudden bench Joe Mauer and put Pinto at first," quipped Gardenhire.

White Sox: Eaton adjusting to starting on road

New center fielder Adam Eaton enjoys the comforts of playing at home. His family is able to come watch him play, he can sleep in his own bed and has the home faithful behind him.

In fact, Eaton said he has never started a professional season on the road, even in the Minor Leagues.

"I would say it's harder for me actually coming in being a new guy and trying to change that perspective, there's a little more pressure trying to change what happened last year," Eaton said. "We've been around baseball long enough, guys know how to save the feel."

Worth noting

• Quintana set an American League record for no-decisions in a season with 17 in 2013.

• Right-hander Brian Duensing was scheduled to rejoin the team for Thursday's game following the birth of his child, Boston Matthew Duensing, but he may not make it in time because his original flight was canceled.

The Twins placed Duensing on the paternity list on Monday. If Duensing makes it in time for Thursday's game, the Twins will make a corresponding roster move. Comments