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The Sports Xchange, Published July 02 2013

Twins OF Thomas hoping to prove he belongs with the big leagues

Every at-bat is important for Clete Thomas. Not just to help his Minnesota Twins team win ball games, but for his chance to stay in the majors.

The 29-year old center fielder was called up in early June to replace Aaron Hicks (who strained his hamstring but will soon come off the DL). Thomas is making a strong case that he should remain with the big club even thought Hicks has returned.

After Monday's 10-4 loss to the New York Yankees, Thomas is batting .256.

Thomas has started in center and batted leadoff almost since the day he was called up on June 6. He went 4-for-4 on June 12 and grabbed everyone's attention. He has not made all the spectacular catches of his predecessor Hicks, but his bat has been a boon for Twins.

Heading into Monday's game, Thomas was hitting .310 (9-for-29) with two homers, two doubles, nine runs scored and four walks in his last eight games.

Thomas has excelled in the leadoff role. He scored Monday making seven straight games that he has done so.

While he has been a pleasant surprise at the place, he has shown a propensity to strike out, having whiffed 22 times in 78 at-bats.

But his other attributes have made people take notice.

"He can run, he can throw, he can field, he can play left, center and right," general manager Terry Ryan said. "The only question about Thomas was strike outs, and he's taken better at bats. He's taken swings at more strikes. And he's taking more competitive at bats against lefties.

"He's certainly working the count better or our manager wouldn't have put him up in the one hole. It's just a matter of him doing enough with the bat that allows us to keep running him out there and he's done enough."

Hicks, meanwhile, is on rehab assignment with the Rochester Red Wings in Triple-A. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the team wants to be sure that Hicks is not going to reinjure his hamstring, so they aren't rushing him back to the big leagues.

"We want him to be healthy and swinging the bat good when he gets back up here," Gardenhire told the Star-Tribune. "We'll give him plenty of time."

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MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 36-42

STREAK: Lost two

PAST 10 GAMES: 3-7

NEXT: Yankees (Phil Hughes, 3-7, 4.82) vs. Twins (Samuel Deduno, 4-2, 3.32)

PLAYER NOTES:

--LF Josh Willingham was scratched before Monday night's 10-4 loss to the Yankees. He was experiencing "increased discomfort" in his left knee during warm-ups and is scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday. Willingham had an MRI on the knee when he injured it in May. Willingham played with the sore knee for a while, but his absences from the lineup have been increasing.

--RHP Samuel Deduno threw only 87 pitches through seven innings June 27 against the Royals. The right-hander gave up just five hits and one run on a home run. He also struck out three and walked one to improve to 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA vs. Kansas City. Deduno has limited experience against the Yankees, facing them less than two innings total.

--LHP Scott Diamond allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits, one walk and two home runs while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings in Monday night's 10-4 loss to the New York Yankees. He left with a 4-3 lead and was issued his first no decision since May 28 at Milwaukee, a span of five starts (2-3 in those five).

--RF Chris Parmelee (2-for-3) hit his eighth home run of the season, a solo shot, in the sixth inning to put the Twins up 4-3 against the New York Yankees. He followed it with a double in the eighth inning. He has three home runs in his last eight games, since June 22. It was just his second home run of the season off a left-handed pitcher.

--DH Trevor Plouffe (0-for-3) had his season-high hit-streak at 12 games snapped on Monday against the Yankees. He went 0-for-3. During those 12 games he hit .304 (14-for-46) with two home runs, a double, 10 RBI and two walks. It was just his second hitless game since May 12 vs. Baltimore, a span of 23 games (21 with at least one hit).

--C Ryan Doumit (2-for-5) doubled in two runs in the first inning to put the Twins up 2-1 on Monday against the Yankees. It was his 16th double of the season -- 34 of his 58 hits on the season have gone for extra-bases. Monday marked his 15th multihit game of the season and his fifth multihit game in his last 10.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was an ugly end to a good ballgame at that point." -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, after the Yankees scored seven runs in the final two innings on their way to a 10-4 win Monday.

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MLB Team Report - Minnesota Twins - ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--LF Josh Willingham (sore left knee) did not play July 1. He is due to have an MRI exam July 2.

--RHP Mike Pelfrey (back strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 19.

--CF Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) went on the seven-day disabled list May 26. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Fort Myers on June 20.

--CF Aaron Hicks (left hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list June 10. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on June 25.

--OF Darin Mastroianni (stress reaction in left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 22 after having surgery on a bone chip in his left ankle. His ankle was moved to a walking boot from a cast May 29.

--RHP Tim Wood (right rotator cuff strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 24, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 24. He began a rehab assignment in mid-April, but he was shut down May 9.