Robbie Grossman laughed after a seemingly minor collision with Byron Buxton while chasing Carlos Santana’s fly ball in the second inning of the second game Thursday. But when he came to the plate in the bottom of the inning, it wasn’t so funny anymore.
“That’s when I knew,” Grossman said of his left thumb, fractured by an awkward impact with Buxton’s forearm. “I couldn’t get my batting gloves off. It had swelled up in that time.”
Grossman was placed on the disabled list after the game, and a replacement will be called up Friday.
The replacement could be Mitch Garver, the Twins' starting catcher at Class AAA Rochester. Garver's college baseball coach at the University of New Mexico, Ray Birmingham, tweeted late Thursday that Garver was being promoted.
Congratulations to Lobo Legend Mitch Garver. He is going to the big leagues!!!����������— Ray Birmingham (@BirminghamRay) August 18, 2017
Garver has a .291 batting average and 17 home runs in 88 games at Rochester, and has played 14 games in left field this season for the Red Wings. The Twins have also used Eduardo Escobar in the outfield in the past when needed.
Buxton could see that something was up with Grossman.
“You could tell it was starting to bother him a little bit more,” Buxton said. “It’s just a tough situation. You don’t want to see anybody get put out of the game that way.”
He knows better than anyone, of course, having been knocked out cold with a concussion while making a catch during a Double-A game three years ago. This wasn’t nearly that violent, just awkward. “His thumb hit my forearm. He had his thumb out, and it just caught me,” Buxton said. Grossman later described the blow as so freakish, “you could make that play 1,000 times and not have it happen again.”
Still, it’s a blow for the Twins, since Grossman’s on-base percentage is in the top dozen in the league. Doctors told Grossman it would take 2-4 weeks for the fracture to heal, and Molitor was hopeful that, while it may take a month for him to be able to throw adequately, he might be able to hit before then.
After all, Grossman lined a single with a fractured thumb.