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Twins option struggling Matt Wallner, bring back Trevor Larnach

BALTIMORE — Nearly three frustrating weeks into the season, the Twins have decided that outfielder Matt Wallner needs a reset, both physical and mental.

The Twins optioned the outfielder on Tuesday. The 26-year-old is hitting .080, and one of his two hits on the season was a home run that he hit off of a position player. Wallner has struck out in 17 of 33 plate appearances.

“Sometimes when you talk to a guy and you send him down, option him, sometimes it’s hard for guys to take or accept or be OK with and sometimes everyone knows that it’s actually the right thing to do and the best way to get him going,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think that it’s more of the second one in this instance.”

In his rookie season, Wallner slugged 14 home runs in 254 plate appearances and took hold of a roster spot, providing an important boost for the Twins down the stretch. But after a difficult spring training, the beginning of Wallner’s season has been unproductive and strikeout-filled, and the Twins hope he can get back on track at Triple-A.

“I want Matt to feel like himself as a player and go out there and be able to just simplify things, go do his job. And right now, it probably feels more difficult than it really should be for him,” Baldelli said. “All it takes is for him to just get settled in, go hit some balls good. It probably won’t take that much or hopefully that long for him to feel like himself again.”

To fill his spot on the roster, the Twins have brought back fellow outfielder Trevor Larnach, who was passed up on the depth chart by Wallner last year.

He showed up in Baltimore with a tan — which, in this case, he pointed out was not a good thing.

“It’s because I was in Florida for too long,” Larnach said. “Just happy to be back and see everyone again.”

The outfielder spent an extended time in Florida as he rehabbed from turf toe, which forced him to the injured list to start the season. He just completed a three-game rehab assignment with Single-A Fort Myers and said getting thrown back into the fire was a good thing. But he’s also looking forward to getting his rhythm back.

He said he felt as if he had just gotten into a rhythm with his swing this spring before the toe injury popped up. So while he tried to swing with it for a little bit, he wanted to be smart and not push it so the injury wouldn’t come back around later in the season.

“When he’s going good, he can drive the ball to all fields,” Baldelli said. “He gives you a threat in the lineup, and he’s healthy and feeling good right now. So I think (it’s) a good opportunity for him and a good way for us to get him in the lineup”

Duran update

Jhoan Duran has consistently said throughout his rehab from a strained oblique that he’s fighting off boredom. That boredom is lessening as he gets closer to a return.

Duran threw 25 pitches in a bullpen on Tuesday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. While his command initially felt rusty once he returned to throwing, he said it’s coming back, and he’s starting to get closer to where he needs to be.

He’s expected to next throw on Friday when he faces hitters at Target Field. In the meantime, being on the road trip and around his teammates has at least helped keep him occupied.

“It’s better here,” he said. “I try to bring that energy to my teammates and be in the game, concentrate on it. It’s good for me.”

Briefly

The Twins signed veteran Tony Kemp to a minor league deal to help address the lack of infield depth they have with injuries to Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis and minor leaguers Brooks Lee and Michael Helman. Kemp began the season with the Orioles but was recently designated for assignment. Kemp has mainly been a second baseman and left fielder during parts of nine big league seasons.