Minnesota Twins: Injuries affect lineup and standings

Minnesota Twins

Target Field

The last two weeks have begun to take a toll on the Minnesota Twins, particularly due to injuries in the roster.

In the American League Central Division, first place has been predominantly in the Detroit Tigers’ favor. The closest the Twins have come this year to holding that position was April 18, when they were just half of a game out behind Detroit and the Kansas City Royals.

With six weeks completed in the regular season, the Twins are now sitting in last place and six and a half games behind Detroit.

Before the season began, I had said that in order for the Twins to be successful, they needed to stay healthy. Now it seems the injury list is just getting longer.

Josh Willingham has been on the disabled list since April 7 with a small wrist fracture he obtained the day before. While batting against the Cleveland Indians, Willingham was hit by a fastball from pitcher Justin Masterson. The Twins outfielder began swinging a bat Tuesday, but had his session cut short due to soreness. Willingham hopes to return on Saturday pain free, but also stated that there was no timetable on his full return. Even when he does fully heal, Willingham will still have to go through a rehab assignment to get back into playing mode.

Minnesota Twins

Aaron Hicks

Oswaldo Arcia has not seen any playing time since April 5 due to a right wrist strain. In the four games he was able to play this year, Arcia had two hits in 18 at-bats, one of them being a triple. As of April 26, Arcia was sent to Triple-A Rochester for rehab assignment and should be due back any day.

Aaron Hicks was placed on the disabled list Friday due to concussion-like symptoms that began the day before. In game 2 of a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hicks ran into the centerfield wall in an attempt to catch a fly ball hit by Scott Van Slyke. With Hicks being placed on the DL, the Twins called up left-hander Logan Darnell in order to add an arm to their struggling bullpen and plan to have him pitch in long relief.

Mike Pelfrey went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a left groin strain. Pelfrey plans to give himself time to rest before heading out on rehab assignment. He feels that his arm is rather healthy, even though he left with one of the worst ERAs on the Twins roster at 7.99. In the meantime, he has been replaced by shortstop Danny Santana, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester.

Joe Mauer left midway through Sunday’s game due to back spasms and has been questionable ever since. Mauer has been listed day-to-day, and was able to play some catch and do some light swinging on Wednesday. However, if Mauer does not return soon, his roster spot may be needed for other means. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had said that if Mauer was not available by Friday or Saturday, “it doesn’t make much sense and not to do it and try to protect ourselves.”

Sam Fuld was planned to play in Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Indians, but was scratched from the lineup and put on the seven-day concussion disabled list. In Wednesday’s game, Fuld made a throw to home plate, aggravating a headache that started in Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, when he slammed into the wall at Target Field while catching a fly ball from Manny Machado. While Fuld recovers, the Twins must rely on Eduardo Nunez, who was called from Triple-A Rochester.

With as many players as there are on the disabled list, it can be difficult to keep a sense of consistency to the lineup. And it has clearly shown in the Twins’ slow decline from second place to last place in the division. Let’s just hope this does not stay a reality.

Related article: Fuld’s injury leaves Gardenhire with thin bench