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Willingham

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Sunday Insider: Central Intelligence

  • August 16, 2014 - 6:52 PM

Injuries, and how teams react to them, might play a major role in deciding how the standings will look, and all five AL Central teams made big moves in the past week. A look at the rest of the division:

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Cleveland is trying to hang in the race, even after dumping the contracts of Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera. Losing Nick Swisher (knee) and David Murphy (abdominal) didn’t help, but neither one is having a good season. The return of center fielder Michael Bourn from a hamstring injury on Friday might turn out to have far more impact.

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Needing a big bat to make up for the offense lost when first baseman Eric Hosmer broke a bone in his right hand, Kansas City traded with the Twins for Josh Willingham, who will serve as designated hitter while Billy Butler plays first. Hosmer is unlikely to return until mid-September, so Willingham’s power could be critical.

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Detroit paid a heavy price to acquire Joakim Soria in a trade with Texas, then lost the reliever to an oblique strain for as much as a month. The Tigers responded by signing A’s castoff Jim Johnson in hopes he can recapture the form that saved 101 games in two years in Baltimore. Then things got worse: There is no easy answer for starter Anibal Sanchez’s pectoral injury, which will keep him off a mound for up to four weeks.

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The White Sox are not in the postseason race, but their fortunes took a positive turn when outfielder Avisail Garcia, believed lost for the season when he needed shoulder surgery in April, began a rehab assignment. Garcia’s return gives Chicago a chance to evaluate their offense heading into the offseason.

© 2014 Star Tribune