Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

Trying to figure out the Twins roster mess

Posted by: Howard Sinker Updated: May 9, 2014 - 2:58 PM

Let's get one thing straight for starters, OK? I'm not going to be the one who will question how badly Joe Mauer is hurt. Some of the nasty comments that started with the first announcement that he'd left last Sunday's game with back spasms are from the place in Internet hell where the all-seeing-but-unknowing reside and make me feel the need to shower after reading. There are enough valid Mauercentric issues to debate in which cases can be made for all sides.

I'm writing this after a trip to a sports medicine place Friday morning. Because of the NFL draft and a couple of other things that are current increasing the volume of work in the "A" job, my mousing hand was bothering me enough that I figured I should get it checked out. It wasn't a huge deal, but I'm sure you understand: Check something small before it becomes bigger. I had X-rays and saw the doc and he delivered a less-than-dire diagnosis.

I'm not going to share it with you, beyond calling it Unilateral Hand Weakness.

Back to Mauer: There's enough blame to go around on this one. The Twins missed a prime chance to move on from some of their errant personnel ways. What if the Twins had told Mauer: "Joe let's give this a couple of days and then, if you can't play, we'll put you on the disabled list so you can heal." Yes, there would have been some ugly chatter but first basemen do get hurt. (See Killebrew, Harmon.)

In recent years, the Twins have let the day-to-day thing drag on and on to the point that I have interpreted "day to day" as meaning an eventual trip to the disabled list. (See Willingham, Josh.) During Thursday's loss -- which will be remembered as the afternoon of the one-man bench and a lineup that would get hooted at during spring training -- there was chatter that Willingham, now out for more than a month, could be transferred to the 60-day disabled list to help the Twins through their current roster problems. That's a lot of days, by any reckoning.

And there was this report on Oswaldo Arcia, who hurt his hand and wrist during the first week of the season. If you don't want to click, it says the Twins planned to rest Arcia for a few days "so it's possible he might not return until at least Wednesday, April 9."

Today is the one-month anniversary of that diagnosis, which seemed pretty glum at the time considering the injury was thought to be pretty minor. Arcia was back in action at Class AAA Rochester on April 26, but scuttled the Twins' plans to call him up this week when he came to the ballpark in Rochester complaining of "stiffness."

All of this conjures recollections of Michael Cuddyer's wart and Delmon Young's ribs for me -- and maybe a couple of others for you.

So if Mauer goes on the disabled list during the Detroit series, I won't be shocked. If he doesn't, I'll be happily surprised. The bigger point here is that the Twins have lost credibility in their proclamations about player health. The point is not that I'm expecting them to share ever detail. If the Twins wanted to call the thing that haunted Mauer "bilateral leg weakness" a few years back, so be it.  (I'm assuming that would be a lower body injury in the NHL.)

The point is that I expect the Twins to have a better handle of what's going on with the health of their players and to err on the side of telling them, "Dude, if you can't play, we'll sit you down for a spell and get somebody else." That's not a bad way to set a tone when it comes to roster management.

And as long as I'm on the topic of roster management, this 14-pitcher thing -- one of the contributors to Thursday's Florimon-only bench -- has me kind of puzzled. Gardy brought in Michael Tonkin to pitch an inning of relief Thursday. It was the first time he'd pitched since the previous Thursday, when the crisis alert was sounded after the doubleheader with the Dodgers. Anthony Swarzak pitched a bit Thursday after making only one appearance since that doubleheader.

That alone should debunk the need for 14 pitchers, along with the fact that Caleb Thielbar had pitched to only five batters since April 25 before coming in Thursday. I'm just not getting it, and I suspect I'm not going solo there. Gardy should have been able to do more than throw up his hands in frustration over Mauer's back and Sam Fuld's concussion.

Going into Detroit, which has the best record in baseball along with aces Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer ready to pitch the next two games, the Twins still have 14 pitchers and three shortstops on the roster. Great, huh? I'm glad I have the Wild and a college graduation to distract me this weekend. (And just so you know, despite my Unilateral Hand Weakness diagnosis, I'll be back in the Web chair at startribune.com on Sunday for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.)

Seriously, here's the deal: I don't expect the Twins to me totally honest with you and me. I do expect them to be totally honest with themselves.


 

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Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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