ATLANTA -- Monday marked the Twins' first return to Atlanta for regular-season play since playing the Braves in the 1991 World Series.
The Twins played the Braves in Interleague Play in Minnesota in 2002, '07 and '10, but never traveled to play in Atlanta other than in preseason games at Turner Field in '11.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who served as the club's third-base coach in '91, has fond memories of that World Series that was won in seven games by Minnesota, with both teams winning every home game.
"I don't think we won one game here in Atlanta -- the home team won them all," Gardenhire said. "But we were the best team at our ballpark and that's all that mattered in the World Series. But there were some crazy things that happened. And as we know in all sports, the best team doesn't always win. But if you look at 1991 world champions, it says Minnesota Twins, and I have a ring to prove it."
But as Gardenhire pointed out, it's not exactly a return to the site of those old memories, as the Braves left Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for Turner Field in '97. And the Twins, of course, left the Metrodome for Target Field in '10.
"They had magic going on at their park and we had magic at ours," Gardenhire said. "It was hard to win at the Metrodome and it was hard to win here, too. Good things happened for them at their park, the same way it was for us at our park. And it was crazy here, too."
Twins option starter Hernandez, recall reliever Thielbar
ATLANTA -- The Twins optioned struggling left-hander Pedro Hernandez to Triple-A Rochester on Monday and recalled left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar from Rochester to take his place on the roster. The Twins will recall a starting pitcher for Friday's game in Detroit.
Hernandez, 24, posted a 5.85 ERA with 17 strikeouts and 10 walks in 32 1/3 innings. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his start on Sunday against the Red Sox, giving up three runs on nine hits, to get the loss.
"He had a lot of two-strike hits against him, so that shows he needs a put away pitch that can finish a hitter off," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He didn't finish off hitters yesterday. He got into counts where he had a chance but didn't make pitches. So he has things to work on, because we need him to go deeper into games."
Thielbar adds an eighth reliever to the club's bullpen depth, especially with Twins starters having trouble pitching deep into games recently. The 26-year-old Minnesota native also gives the Twins another lefty in their bullpen along with Brian Duensing and closer Glen Perkins.
Thielbar, who pitched for the independent league St. Paul Saints in 2011 before being signed by the Twins, had a 3.76 ERA with 34 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 1/3 innings with the Red Wings. Thielbar didn't land in Atlanta until about 50 minutes before the game, but was activated in time and hurled two scoreless innings in his big league debut during Minnesota's 5-1 loss.
"He's another arm out there, because we've killed the rest of the guys, as we've talked about," Gardenhire said. "But having another lefty out there, you can take a shot with Duensing to get a lefty out. So this gives us another option. We can use Caleb early and maybe Duensing a little later."
With Hernandez out of the rotation, the Twins will recall Kyle Gibson, Samuel Deduno or P.J. Walters for Friday's start in Detroit, according to Gardenhire.
Gibson is coming off a three-hit shutout on Sunday, while Walters turned in his sixth straight quality start with Rochester on Saturday. Deduno, who started the year injured with a strained groin, is slated to start on Tuesday. Right-hander Cole De Vries, however, can't be used because he was optioned to Rochester on Saturday and needs 10 days in the Minors before he can be recalled.
"I have choices and I like them all -- they've all thrown the ball very well for us at one time or another," Gardenhire said. "We haven't had Gibson up here at all, but he just had a good start, but had a really bad one before that. We know what Deduno does. And Walters has pitched very well. So there's three options right there."
Twins adjust to no DH for first time this season
ATLANTA -- With the Twins playing in a National League park for the first time this season, manager Ron Gardenhire had to write out his lineup without a designated hitter for the first time all year.
It meant Ryan Doumit and rookie Oswaldo Arcia started out the game on the bench with Joe Mauer getting the start behind the plate and Chris Parmelee starting in right field. Josh Willingham, who was held out of the starting lineup on Sunday because of his recent slump, returned to his usual spot in left field.
Gardenhire also said Mauer is feeling fine after missing Friday's game with back stiffness and starting behind the plate on Sunday. Mauer caught all nine innings on Sunday in a game that featured a three-hour rain delay at Target Field and came out of it feeling OK.
"He's fine," Gardenhire said. "I was concerned yesterday with the long layoff yesterday and him going back out there. But he did a good job of staying loose and moved around. So he was OK after it, and I talked to him today and he said he felt good."
Doumit, meanwhile, is still dealing with a little soreness after starting at catcher on Saturday. He was involved in a home-plate collision with Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway and caught every inning of the game that lasted nearly four hours.
"He was a little sore yesterday," Gardenhire said. "It was a four-hour baseball game with about 8,000 pitches. He had the collision at home and had balls fouled off his neck and his shoulder. So he was sore yesterday, and he doesn't admit that too many times, so yesterday was probably good for him."