The Baltimore Orioles, who have used 13 different designated hitters this season, apparently have interest in seeing if Josh Willingham might help carry them to the playoffs.
The Twins slugger was claimed off revocable trade waivers on Wednesday, a major league source told the Star Tribune, giving the Twins until noon Friday to work out a trade or pull him back. The source did not reveal which team claimed Willingham, but the Baltimore Sun confirmed late Wednesday that the Orioles had been awarded the claim.
Willingham has batted a career-low .212 this season, with 12 home runs and 45 RBI, a year after racking up 35 homers and 110 RBI in his first season with the Twins. But the Orioles, who stand 4½ games behind Oakland for the second wild-card berth in the American League, and 7½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, haven’t received much different from their own DHs this season.
Four different players have served as Baltimore’s DH for 19 or more games this season, including former Twin Danny Valencia, and the group has batted a collective .216 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI. Presumably, the Orioles — who also have discussed trading for first baseman Justin Morneau, according to the Sun — would like Willingham to fill that role.
But for that to happen, the teams have to reach an agreement on a trade by Friday noon. If they cannot, the Twins will have two options: pull him back from waivers and keep him for the rest of the season, or simply allow the Orioles to take Willingham and his contract, an unlikely scenario. Willingham earns $7 million for this season, roughly $1.1 million of which will still be due in September, and is owed another $7 million for next season, the last under the three-year contract he signed with the Twins in December 2011.
Willingham’s salary will be increased by $1 million next year if he reaches 525 plate appearances this season. He had batted 378 times through Tuesday’s game.
A knee injury has hampered Willingham this season, and he underwent surgery in July. His numbers are well down from a year ago, when he racked up 35 homers and 110 RBI in his first season with the Twins.
Mauer staying home
The Twins leave for Texas immediately after today’s game, and Joe Mauer definitely won’t be on the flight. But while he’s likely to miss the entire six-game trip south, he continues to show gradual improvement from the concussion he suffered on Aug. 19.
“He’s made progress today,” General Manager Terry Ryan said. “He was doing some exercises, he’s moving around, doing stretching and stuff.”
Morneau, whose battle with concussions cost him parts of two seasons, said he has tried not to offer too much advice. “I’m sure every person he runs into asks him how he feels,” Morneau said. Still, he does have a little advice: Don’t try to fight it off.
“The only thing I told him is, rest is the most important thing. If you’re not feeling good, you think you need to go lay down, go do that. That’s going to help you get better quicker,” Morneau said.
Two relievers released
The Twins released a pair of minor league relievers on Wednesday, cutting righthander Tim Wood and lefthander Luis Perdomo from their roster at Rochester. Wood appeared in only nine minor league games before undergoing shoulder surgery. Perdomo posted a 5.95 ERA for the Red Wings.