Must C Close: Doumit uses nifty footwork to score

MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite his third straight absence from the lineup Thursday night at Target Field, Ryan Doumit was available off the bench.

The Twins catcher -- who sprained his right ankle in the ninth inning while trying to score Sunday at Cleveland -- is feeling better and is "absolutely" ready to go if needed, according to manager Ron Gardenhire.

"He said he felt great," Gardenhire said. "Everybody said he moved great, his ankle was good. He came out like he was throwing people out. He said he didn't really feel much at all. And that's a good thing because we were a little worried about that."

Gardenhire also noted that Doumit is a bat he'd like to have in the lineup, especially given how well he has swung lately. From June 14-22, Doumit hit at a .281 clip with a .361 on-base percentage and a .375 slugging percentage. With nine hits in that stretch, Doumit hit three doubles and picked up two RBIs. He also walked four times and reached once on an error.

"I like him in the lineup a lot," Gardenhire said. "But when you have those guys like him sitting on the bench, it does -- especially a switch-hitter -- it gives you a little bit of a weapon off the bench, especially in a tight situation where you need a big hit, you can run him out there."

Ahead of debut, Gibson gets initial look at home park

MIN@PHI: Gibson hurls 2 1/3 frames in spring start

MINNEAPOLIS -- While he won't make his Major League debut until Saturday, Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson got his first taste of Target Field on Thursday in Minnesota's clubhouse.

The Twins called Gibson up from Triple-A Sunday night after they optioned Pedro Hernandez, who filled in for Mike Pelfrey on Sunday after he was placed on the disabled list with a sore back. While Gibson wasn't scheduled to start until Saturday, he has spent the entire week the team and getting used to his new teammates.

"I just got told Sunday night that I was coming up on the off-day," Gibson said. "I was pretty excited and thankful honestly, because the last couple days have been really good -- just kind of getting acclimated, not having to rush around and getting your gear ready. And making sure family can get up here and get organized."

Gibson -- rated as the Twins' No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com -- threw an extended bullpen session Wednesday, followed with a shorter one Thursday in an effort to acclimate to the mound and his new home stadium.

"Thankfully it's not the first big league stadium I've played in," Gibson said. "It's cool to be able to walk out there and just look around and soak it all in. And imagine how it's going to be when there's a lot of people there, but I'm sure on Saturday it's going to be a little different."

Minnesota kept Gibson in Rochester longer than maybe some fans wanted, but the club wanted him to be find some consistency. In his 15 starts with the Red Wings, Gibson went 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA over 92 2/3 innings.

"I think it's always a constant battle," Gibson said of finding consistency. "Maybe in the last 10 games I can say that I've found that, but I think being consistent and constant consistency on the Major League level is going to be a different thing."

Gibson will debut Saturday afternoon opposite Royals right-hander Ervin Santana.

Plouffe providing plenty of offense since return

MIN@MIA: Plouffe punches an RBI single to right field

MINNEAPOLIS -- Since his return from the disabled list June 15, third basemen Trevor Plouffe has provided the Twins with some much needed offense in the middle of the order.

With a hit in all but one game in his 10 games since he rejoined the lineup, Plouffe entered Thursday's game on an eight-game hitting streak. During the streak, Plouffe has .303 batting average with 10 hits in 33 at-bats. He also has six RBIs in that stretch.

"He's come back up swinging good and he's playing good defense," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need him to produce. Our lineup is definitely better, it looks better on paper with him in the lineup. It makes it a lot easier to fill it out, writing his name in. We've got another right-handed power bat."