La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins-Yankees: Willingham to DL, Hicks up, bullpen shuffled

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: July 2, 2013 - 5:08 PM

The Twins have placed outfielder Josh Willingham on the 15-day disabled list with a medial meniscus tear and bone bruise in his left knee. Willingham tweaked the knee over the weekend and experienced increased discomfort yesterday while attempting to warm up.

This means more Oswaldo Arcia in left field, which isn't a bad thing for a kid needing experience.

It also damages the chances that Willingham could surge before the trade deadline and become an attractive trade option for a team looking for a power hitter. A torn meniscus sounds bad, and I'm wondering how bad the tear is? Can rest and rehab be enough to get him back on the field, or is surgery a possibility. Those are things we hope to find out over the next few hours.

The Twins have returned outfielder Aaron Hicks from his rehab assignment at Class AAA Rochester, where he was batting .190 through six games. Actually, Hicks was on his way to the Twin Cities earlier today, as the team probably knew where they were headed with Willingham.

Will check back with updates, I promise. The Twins haven't announced any of their international signings yet, so we're still waiting to hear about a few. Learned over the weekend that they pretty much had Dominican outfielder Lewin Diaz in their back pocket, so U expect that one to be announced.

UPDATES

The Twins have reached agreement with Diaz, but won't announce it officially until he passes a physical. Look for him to get a bonus of at least $1 million, and possibly close to the $1.4 million they signed Amaurys Minier to last year.

Minier, playing for the GCL Twins at age 17, was 3-for-3 with two doubles in the first game of a double header today. In the second game, he went 0-for-3 before leaving because of heat exhaustion.

Twins still in on Mayky Perez, as are a few other teams (like the Padres). Sounds like they are trying to get him to come down on his bonus demands.

On to the major league team...

The bullpen pecking order is being rearranged following the recent struggles of righthander Jared Burton and lefthander Brian Duensing. Case Fien and Caleb Thielbar will take over eighth inning/late inning lefty specialist duties for the time being.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Burton and Duensing need a mental breather after recent struggles. I was told that Burton needs to pitch with his fastball more than going so quickly to his unique change up. Instead of throwing the change on 0-2, he might need to be more aggressive with his fastball, which could make his other pitches more effective.

Aaron Hicks is back in the lineup today after returning from Rochester when Willingham went down. Hicks said he got the call to head to the Twin Cities last night, so the Twins knew things weren't going well for Hammer. Hicks also said he was robbed of a home run on Sunday.

Bronx Bombers (43-39)

1. Brett Gardner, CF
2. Ichiro, RF
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Zoilo Almonte, LF
6. Lyle Overbay, 1B
7. Chris Stewart, C
8. David Adams, 3B
9. Alberto Gonzalez, SS

Pitching: Phil Hughes, RHP

Twins (36-43)

1. Brian Dozier, 2B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Ryan Doumit, DH
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
6. Oswaldo Arcia, LF
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Aaron Hicks, CF
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

Pitching: Samuel Deduno

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