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Twins being patient returning Cruz to lineup

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) hits a home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field on Friday, April 26. Jesse Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Nelson Cruz was not activated from the 10-day injured list Friday despite being eligible to return.

But Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli doesn’t seem to think Cruz, who has been sidelined with a left wrist strain, will be out much longer.

“As I sit here right now I’m not prepared to make any definitive statements,” Baldelli said. “I would say today was a good day.”

In the hours leading up to Friday night’s game with the Chicago White Sox at Target Field, Cruz could be seen bopping around the clubhouse, and he even took some swings pregame.

“We are to the point where I think we can get a good read on him when he goes out there and takes some swings,” Baldelli said. “I think we’ll have a pretty good idea in the next couple of days where we sit.”

While Cruz could be back at some point this weekend, there’s no need to rush him back, especially with the way the Twins have been tearing the cover off the ball.

In fact, since placing Cruz on the 10-day injured list a week ago, the Twins have hit 19 home runs.

Littell recalled

In an effort bolster their depth in the bullpen, the Twins recalled right-handed pitcher Zack Littell from Triple-A Rochester on Friday, and DFA’d right-handed pitcher Austin Adams.

As a starter this season, Littell was 2-2 with a 4.19 earned-run average and 45 strikeouts for Rochester. He likely will pitch out of the bullpen for the Twins for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t see him being used in one particular way,” Baldelli said. “We are in a spot where we could use another good arm in the bullpen. That will be helpful. It will certainly allow us to go into today’s game and tomorrow’s game a little more comfortably.”

In 20 1/3 innings in the big leagues last season, Littell was 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA and 14 strikeouts. Despite those struggles, he looked at it is a great learning experience now that he’s back.

“It’s just an experience thing,” Littell said. “You can go out there and it’s no longer, ‘Oh, I’m pitching in the big leagues.’ It’s just going to work every day. That’s the biggest change.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s completely gone now. Just compared to the first time, the second time, the third time, I’m getting more and more comfortable, and that’s what we’re kind of working toward.”

Garver improving

As if the Twins need more power hitting, Mitch Garver is progressing faster than expected as he recovers from a high ankle sprain.

“It’s OK to say Mitch is doing very well,” Baldelli said. “Obviously it was a very scary injury, initially, not knowing what we were dealing with right off the bat. He’s progressed pretty rapidly and is moving around well.”

While it still could be awhile before Garver is back for good, he’s responded well to running and swinging over the past few days, as well as anything else the Twins have thrown at him.

“As a catcher we want to make sure he’s fully capable of the workload before we make a statement like, ‘We’re going to bring him back,’ ” Baldelli said. “We want to test that out and make sure that’s going to go well too. Everything so far has been pretty solid.”

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