MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are about to take another step toward full strength, with outfielder/designated hitter Jason Kubel finally on his way back seven weeks after spraining his left foot.

Kubel was reinstated from his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Rochester and activated from the disabled list following Thursday night’s 6-2 loss to Detroit. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Kubel would likely play Friday against the Tigers.

Kubel was hitting .310 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 200 at-bats when he was hurt. He’ll primarily be the DH, sharing time with Jim Thome, but is also capable of playing left field, right field and possibly first base. Gardenhire called Kubel on Wednesday night, prepared to tell him the team wanted to give him a few more games with the farm club. But Kubel convinced his manager to let him come back.

“I wanted to make sure he was ready,” Gardenhire said. “He said, `Gardy, I feel good. I’m seeing it really good.”‘

Left-handed pitcher Scott Diamond, a fill-in starter for Scott Baker during Monday’s doubleheader defeat by the Cleveland Indians, was optioned to Rochester. Right-hander Kevin Slowey, recovering from an abdominal muscle injury, was also reinstated from his rehab assignment and optioned to Rochester.

The Twins are still missing center fielder Denard Span (concussion symptoms) and first baseman Justin Morneau (neck surgery) from their optimal lineup, but Span is getting closer to a return. He played seven innings for Rochester on Wednesday without problems. Head athletic trainer Rick McWane said Span still isn’t ready to play a nine-inning game.

With Ben Revere emerging as a reliable regular since Span went out, the Twins will have a playing-time crunch in the outfield when Kubel — and then Span — comes back. Gardenhire didn’t sound concerned.

“I’ll take my chances. I’ll find a way to get him in,” he said.

As for the manager, he was feeling better after leaving another game early Wednesday to see a doctor. He went to a lung specialist this time to make sure the viral infection he’s been bothered by for weeks wasn’t worse than that.

“A few additions to the medicine cabinet,” Gardenhire said. “Going to knock it out with drugs.”

Twins chief executive officer and primary owner Jim Pohlad even advised Gardenhire to rest at home for a few days, but he has been determined to at least be at the ballpark even if he’s been relatively inactive while recovering from the illness.

“I’d rather be around here and write the lineups and everything,” he said.


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