For most of the season, the Minnesota Twins have had to move forward without outfielder Josh Willingham.
The question that remains is: when will he return to the lineup?
In a game against the Cleveland Indians on April 6, Willingham was hit on the wrist by a fastball from starter Justin Masterson. The next day, Willingham was put on the 15-day disabled list with a small wrist fracture.
He has been absent ever since.
Before leaving, however, Willingham was hitting .294/.435/.353 in six games this season, which includes a double and an RBI.
Now, it is 25 days after he was originally put on the disabled list, and he’s almost nearly ready to start swinging a bat again.
“It’s feeling a lot better,” Willingham had stated in regards to his wrist. “It’s a little point-tender, so once that goes away I can hit. As soon as that tenderness goes away, I’ll start swinging.”
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that it takes time for these sorts of injuries to heal. When the first 15 days came to an end, the only options the Twins would have had would have been to put Willingham on another 15-day DL or shift him to the 60-day DL. But, if he had been put on the latter, there would be no way for Willingham to return to the lineup if he were to fully recover prior to the elapsed time. By rule, a player cannot rejoin the team until the 15 or 60 days has elapsed.
Willingham was hopeful that he would be able to start swinging a bat earlier this week, but once he is deemed healthy, Willingham would still need to go through a rehab assignment, which would prolong his return even longer.
Last year, Willingham played in 111 games for the Twins. In that time, he had some of the lowest numbers in his Major League career, hitting just .208/.342/.368 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI. His best season came in 2006 when he was with the then Florida Marlins, a year in which he hit .277/.356/.496 in 142 games, including 26 home runs, 74 RBI, 28 doubles and two triples.
Like I said, these sorts of injuries take time to heal. And there is no doubt that the Twins are doing their best to make sure Willingham heals as best he can before throwing him back into the lineup. Even if it means that he will continue with the 15-day DL, it’s simply best to see what time will tell with his return.
At the same time, I do have the concern of whether or not this injury will have any effect on his performance once he does return. I wonder if he would be able to perform to the best of his abilities, or if he will be afflicted by recurring soreness in his wrist. Will we see his batting averages drop, or will this rest be of an advantage?
Again, all I can say is time will tell. Hopefully he won’t be bothered by his wrist once he returns, and hopefully his return will happen as soon as possible. The Twins could use the extra power in the lineup.
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