Francona said Timlin's return will provide an immediate boost because he can consistently hand him the ball in the eighth inning before going to closer Jonathan Papelbon.
"For me, that was a hard one," Francona said of the couple of weeks without Timlin. "We were getting to our bullpen a little earlier than we wanted to a lot of nights. We knew that was going to be tough.
"That's why so many bullpens are struggling. There aren't a lot of reliable arms."
Foulke, meanwhile, is heading to the DL with what Francona is calling elbow tendinitis. Francona said Foulke, who is in Boston and didn't make the trip, underwent an MRI on Tuesday. Results weren't immediately available.
Foulke pitched two innings Sunday against Texas, surrendering four runs and seven hit.
"I have a feeling that it's been developing," Francona said. "He didn't say anything to anybody, but my guess is that it's been bothering him on and off.
"I don't think these types of things just creep up after an inning."
The Red Sox have hardly had their entire bullpen together this season after a few injuries and Julian Tavarez's suspension to start the season. The club's relievers have already missed a combined 91 games.
But despite the absences, Boston's bullpen hasn't faded. Despite allowing 12 runs in 14 1/3 innings in the last four games, Red Sox relievers maintain a 4.00 ERA -- fourth best in the American League. The bullpen has issued 61 walks, the second fewest in the AL.
In other roster news, the Red Sox recalled pitcher Jermaine Van Buren from Triple-A Pawtucket. The right-hander is in uniform for the Twins series. Van Buren replaces David Pauley, who was optioned to Pawtucket following Sunday's game.
This season, Van Buren is 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA in five total relief appearances. In 13 games with Pawtucket, the 25-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA with a team-best seven saves.
Varitek leads ... barely:
Catcher Jason Varitek and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez are in the closest race of the American League's All-Star voting, separated by just 35,525 votes. Varitek is batting .259 with 29 RBIs, while Rodriguez is hitting .310 with 30 RBIs.
The Red Sox rank in the top two at every position with the exception of shortstop.
Manny Ramirez, who ranks second in the outfield behind Los Angeles' Valdimir Guerrero, is one of four players to eclipse one million votes.
David Ortiz (915,362 votes) leads New York's Jason Giambi by nearly 300,000 votes. Second baseman Mark Loretta and third baseman Mike Lowell trail their Yankee counterparts Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez, respectively.
While A-Rod has a significant lead on Lowell, Loretta trails by Cano by about 67,000 votes -- the second-closest race in AL voting.
In-stadium voting concludes on June 24, while online voting ends on June 29. The All-Star teams will be announced on July 2.
Francona sets rotation:
Matt Clement will start Wednesday in the second game against Minnesota. After Clement, Francona will go with Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester, who opens a three-game set with Atlanta.
"I just didn't want to commit to something when he was limping around," Francona said of Wakefield. "I wanted the guys to know early enough where they could do their normal sides and get on a schedule where they could prepare."
Ortiz on SI cover:
Ortiz is pictured on the cover of this week's issue of Sports Illustrated
, which hits newsstands Wednesday. In the article, Ortiz talks about his days with the Twins, who released him in late 2002 when they couldn't find any takers for a possible trade.
Limited time travel:
Tuesday night is the first time the Red Sox have played outside of the Eastern Time zone since the club opened the season at Texas on April 3-5. The Red Sox had played 58 straight games in one time zone -- more than any other team.
After the Twins series, the Red Sox return to the Eastern Time zone for 19 games before playing the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on July 6.
The Red Sox and Twins resume their three-game set Wednesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Clement is slated to make his first start since June 4 and throws against Minnesota veteran Brad Radke.