The Twins reinstated second baseman Jorge Polanco from the 10-day injured list on Thursday and put him right back to work.
"We're not going to wait around," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We're going to stick him right in the leadoff spot."
So there he was, atop the lineup with Alex Kirilloff, Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Royce Lewis directly behind him. Polanco last played on May 17 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. He missed 11 games because of a left hamstring strain. He went 1-for-3 that day, two days after a 3-for-5 game in which he was a triple away from hitting for the cycle.
Polanco played in 23 games this season entering Thursday's game, hitting .284 with seven doubles, two home runs, 14 RBI, 10 runs scored and six walks. He went 1-for-5 with a double Thursday.
Baldelli said he knew Polanco would be back and relatively soon. Polanco didn't require a rehab assignment at Class AAA St. Paul or elsewhere. That's partly because, Baldelli said, Polanco had all he needed to rehab without leaving Target Field.
Polanco said he strengthened his hamstring for the first five days before doing any hitting.
"When he went down, we didn't think it would take him overly long," Baldelli said. "We knew fairly early that he'd be back pretty soon. He's in a good place right now. He's been doing things at full speed for a while. So he's going to be fine."
To clear a place on the 26-man roster, the Twins optioned infielder Edouard Julien to Class AAA St Paul. Julien played in those 11 games at second base and hit .200 with two doubles, two homers and four RBI.
Rookie Royce Lewis, Correa and Buxton were in Thursday's lineup after all three didn't start Wednesday night's 8-2 victory at Houston.
It was the first time Lewis at third, Correa at shortstop and Polanco at second all started in the same infield together.
Lewis didn't play Wednesday so he could rest his twice surgically repaired right knee. Buxton missed Monday's and Wednesday's games because of knee soreness. Correa put last week's plantar fasciitis and heel pain behind him to start after he didn't on Wednesday. Kirilloff played first base.
Shufflin' to Buffalo
Outfielder Trevor Larnach is going on a rehab assignment with the Class AAA St. Paul Saints in Buffalo, N.Y. this weekend. Baldelli said Larnach would play six innings Friday, DH on Saturday and play a full nine-inning game on Sunday.
Larnach was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 23 because of pneumonia.
Back from Buffalo
The Twins will evaluate reliever Caleb Thielbar on Friday at Target Field after he needed only eight pitches in his inning of work on a rehab assignment with the Saints on Tuesday. "He came out of his outing good," Baldelli said. "That went as planned, so we'll take that. We're talk to him [Friday] when he arrives and see what we've got."
Thielbar also pitched a perfect inning Thursday for St. Paul, throwing 22 pitches.
Thielbar is on the 15-day injured list because of a right oblique strain that he believes was caught early before it became worse.
More for Maeda
Starter Kenta Maeda will pitch longer next time out after he threw two hitless innings for the Saints on Tuesday in Buffalo. He struck out four of seven batters he faced, walked one, struck out one and threw 29 pitches.
"He's going to go out there for St. Paul again, pitch a little longer and see what we've got," Baldelli said.
Wallner homers again
Matt Wallner homered for the third consecutive game Thursday as the Saints defeated the Bisons 11-5 in Buffalo, N.Y. Wallner has seven homers this season for St. Paul.
Chris Williams hit a grand slam, his sixth homer of the season, for the Saints, who have won five in a row.
The Twins arrived home from Wednesday night's game at Houston about 3 a.m., were back in the office a little more than 12 hours later. They did scrub batting practice.