Wimmers now faces recovery

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2012 - 10:30 PM

Alex Wimmers, the Twins' 2010 first-round draft pick, had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery Thursday, making it two years in a row the team has had a former top pick undergo the procedure.

Alex Wimmers, the Twins’ 2010 first-round draft pick, had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery Thursday, making it two years in a row the team has had a former top pick undergo the procedure.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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BOSTON - Alex Wimmers, the Twins' 2010 first-round draft pick, had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery Thursday, making it two years in a row the team has had a former top pick undergo the procedure.

Kyle Gibson, their 2009 first-round pick, had his surgery last Sept. 7, and his recovery could serve as an inspiration to Wimmers. Gibson, 24, had seven strikeouts over three hitless innings Tuesday in a Gulf Coast League appearance and is close to beginning a rehab stint with Class A Fort Myers.

Rob Antony, Twins assistant general manager, saw Gibson pitch twice recently and said the righthander's fastball was consistently clocked at 93-94 miles per hour with good movement to go with a sharp slider.

"Since we drafted him, that's as good as I've seen him throw the ball," Antony said.

The Twins hope to see Gibson pitch in the Arizona Fall League, and even if he opens next season at Class AAA Rochester, he could be a big part of the team's major league plans for 2013.

It might seem like the Twins are going through an elbow epidemic, but they've actually only had six pitchers from their major league roster have Tommy John surgery since 2002: Joe Mays, Francisco Liriano, Grant Balfour, Pat Neshek, Joe Nathan and Scott Baker.

According to an ESPN.com report from March, 50 active major league pitchers -- or about one in seven -- have had Tommy John surgery.

"The surgery itself and rehab has become so reliable that pitchers are not afraid of having it done anymore," Twins trainer Rick McWane said. "Fifteen years ago, the odds were a lot less favorable and players were more likely to just try and pitch with [a torn elbow ligament] or do rehab alone. So a player is much more likely to have the surgery today as opposed to 15 years ago."

Mauer gets a rest

Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for the first time since June 22 after going .213 (5-for-23) on the last homestand.

Mauer caught four of the six games on the homestand, and was the DH for the two others. Manager Ron Gardenhire said even when Mauer is the DH, he's on the bases so much it's hardly a rest.

"He looked a little gassed [Wednesday]," Gardenhire said. "I thought his swing looked a little longer than normal, and I thought he looked a little tired running the bases. ... I wanted to give him a mental break more than anything."

Injury report

Scott Diamond left Wednesday's start in the eighth inning after taking a line drive off his right thigh, but he remains on track to make next Monday's start in Cleveland.

Trevor Plouffe (bruised right thumb) is eligible to return from the disabled list Sunday, but he didn't travel to Boston. Antony said it's possible Plouffe will be ready to rejoin the team in Cleveland.

P.J. Walters (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to pitch for Class AAA Rochester, beginning another rehab assignment. He's on the 60-day DL and won't be eligible to return until Aug. 13.

Carl Pavano (right shoulder cuff weakness) threw live batting practice again Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla., but has yet to reach the point where he's ready to pitch in a game.

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