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Rivas expected to fill hole at second

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins second baseman Luis Rivas
will be activated from the disabled list on Friday to help an
ailing infield.

On the DL since June 1 because of a bad back, Rivas was going to
start a minor-league rehabilitation assignment this weekend and
join the team on June 24 for a three-game series in Milwaukee. But
with Nick Punto (strained right hamstring) on the disabled list for
at least a few more weeks and Brent Abernathy unable to throw or
hit because of a sore right shoulder, Minnesota is short on second
basemen.
To make matters worse, shortstop Juan Castro fouled a ball off
his left ankle during Thursday night's game against San Francisco.
He's very sore and will be out for a few days.
Abernathy, who was injured when he ran into the wall next to the
bullpen while chasing a foul ball during Tuesday night's game, will
be placed on the DL to make room for Rivas. Luis Rodriguez, who has
been playing mostly at second, will play short until Castro is
ready.
The 26-year-old Rivas -- once thought to be a rising star -- lost
his job to Punto in May. Rivas became the everyday second baseman
in 2001, but injuries, inconsistency and inattentiveness drove the
coaching staff crazy. Michael Cuddyer replaced him as the starter
down the stretch last season, and he essentially regained the job
this spring by default.
But Rivas, batting just .203 with three RBI in 69 at-bats this
year, is fast.
"We like speed," Gardenhire said.
He's also one of the quickest pivots in the game.
"No one turns the double play like he can," Gardenhire said.
And, despite a steady decline in overall production since his
rookie season, Rivas does have some pop in his bat. He hit 10
homers in 336 at-bats last year, not a bad number for a middle
infielder.
After batting .266 with seven homers, 70 runs, 47 RBI and 31
steals as a rookie, Rivas might have created expectations that were
too high for him to live up to.
"Maybe I should just let him play and not try to expect him to
be Superman," Gardenhire said.
With Punto still hurt, it's possible that Rivas could
re-establish himself as a regular this summer.
"If he's playing well enough, then he'll be out there,"
Gardenhire said.