The Twins’ disabled-list sweepstakes had a surprise winner — or is it loser? — on Monday: infielder Jason Bartlett.
Chris Herrmann arrived a few hours before Monday’s home opener, ready to be activated for an injured teammate. The question was, which one?
“Quite honestly, I was thinking yesterday it would be [Josh] Willingham or [Oswaldo] Arcia,” assistant general manager Rob Antony said. Bartlett sprained his left ankle while sliding home on Chris Colabello’s double Sunday in Cleveland, but “we didn’t think it was that big a deal. But then it stiffened up on the plane last night, and he came in a little sore today.”
Bartlett’s injury is just as mild as the sore wrists that are bothering Willingham and Arcia, and none of the three would warrant a stay on the 15-day disabled list under normal circumstances. But the Twins can’t go forward with three players unavailable, “so we had to pick one of them,” Antony said. They chose, probably unsurprisingly, the guy who doesn’t have a hit yet.
The Twins expect Bartlett to be fine by the end of the week at the latest, but since he can’t be activated until April 22, they will likely send him on a rehab assignment in the minors to get some at-bats.
Meanwhile, Arcia and Willingham were examined by the Twins’ doctors Monday, will receive treatment on Tuesday, and both believe they could be in the lineup again by Thursday. “It’s good, getting better,” Arcia said of his sore right wrist, which bothers him only when he swings at inside pitches.
As for Willingham, “I was expecting a lot worse,” after getting hit in the left wrist by a Justin Masterson pitch on Sunday. But he can roll his wrist without much soreness, and there was no swelling overnight. And X-rays found no broken bones. “I hope to pick up a bat Wednesday and it feels good. Thursday, it feels better,” he said.
The virtues of versatility
The minor injuries have created a major opportunity for Herr-mann, one of the Twins’ final cuts in the spring. In addition to filling a vacancy in the outfield, he can catch as well, which allows manager Ron Gardenhire to insert backup catcher Josmil Pinto into the lineup as the designated hitter. And he was playing first base at Rochester on Sunday when he was called up to the majors.
“It’s triple the work, really, because I’m always doing something different every day, and it does get hard sometimes,” said the 26-year-old Texan. “… But being a versatile player, that’s what helps me go to all these positions. I just feel like I get the hang of it a lot faster than most other people do. I’m not really scared to try another position.”
No return on investment yet
Twins owner Jim Pohlad, who stood behind the batting cage for two hours Monday, was asked how much improvement he expected out of the Twins after he committed $83 million to Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey during the offseason.
So far the Twins have gotten one quality start — pitching at least six innings, giving up no more than three earned runs — out of the rotation.
“We certainly hope there is improvement,” Pohlad said. “Is there improvement yet? We have to get the guys clicking. They haven’t yet obviously.”
Pohlad spoke before righthander Kevin Correia gave up six runs over 5⅔ innings in front of an announced crowd of 35,837, the first non-sellout Opening Day in Target Field history.
Not since Willingham hit three home runs in his second week as a Twin in 2012 has a Minnesota player been honored as the American League Player of the Week. But Colabello stopped that streak by collecting 11 RBI in six games last week. Colabello and Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton were named co-Players of the Week on Monday.