CLEVELAND – After being remarkably injury-free, at the major league level at least, through spring training, the Twins suddenly may be running short on outfielders with healthy hands.
Oswaldo Arcia sat in the clubhouse before the game with a device attached to his sore right wrist that’s supposed to help speed recovery. Along with anti-inflammatory medications and at least four days of rest, the Twins hope he can return to the lineup by Wednesday.
“It’s not bad. No pain when I throw,” Arcia said. “When I swing, if [the pitch] is outside, OK. If it’s inside, [I have to] bring hands in, then it hurts.”
A hand specialist said Saturday that his condition appears minor, and Arcia said he will try to take batting practice on Monday to test the wrist, though he won’t play, in hopes of returning after Tuesday’s day off.
He’s not the only outfielder with a sore wrist, however. Josh Willingham was hit by a Justin Masterson fastball in the first inning of Sunday’s game, and though he initially remained in the game, Willingham was removed in the third inning and taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays on his left wrist. No break was found, and the Twins hope it’s just a bruise that won’t sideline him long.
If not, or if Arcia isn’t ready by Wednesday, manager Ron Gardenhire said the Twins won’t hesitate to call upon a replacement. “We can’t play short. We’re just not going to do that this year,” Gardenhire said.
Arcia said he doesn’t know why his wrist became sore, but assistant general manager Rob Antony said the team believes it’s just a side effect of his approach at the plate. “He takes such a violent swing,” Antony said. “Sometimes when guys do that, they periodically will have a little [soreness].”
Help on the way
Indications are that Chris Herrmann will be called up on Monday to join the Twins in time for their home opener against Oakland. Herrmann would take the place of either Willingham or Arcia. Herrmann, 0-for-4 for Class AAA Rochester, was removed late in the Red Wings’ 8-6 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
Welcome to left field
With Willingham hurt and Arcia unavailable, Jason Bartlett played left field for six innings Sunday, the first time in his career he has played more than an inning at any position other than shortstop. And it wasn’t an uneventful outing.
Bartlett chased Jason Kipnis’ deep fly ball into the left field corner in the fourth inning, and when it bounced off the wall several feet above him, the carom bounced about 100 feet toward the infield, allowing Nick Swisher to score from first base.
An inning later, Bartlett tried to make a diving catch of Lonnie Chisenhall’s sinking line drive in left-center, but the ball glanced off his glove and rolled behind him, where Aaron Hicks picked it up. Chisenhall reached second on the double.
As if that wasn’t enough, David Murphy looped a shallow fly ball down the left-field line just two batters later. Again, Bartlett dived, though this one was a much tougher play, and again it glanced off his glove for a double.
Bartlett was removed in the eighth inning for pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar, who then played left field for just the third time in his career.
Tributes roll in
Gardenhire said his phone was “dying a slow death” Saturday night from all text messages and voicemails he received as congratulations for winning his 1,000th game. More than 200 messages were received, he said, including greetings from many of his former players — Johan Santana, Justin Morneau, Jacque Jones, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan and Torii Hunter, among others.
As he described the deluge, in fact, his phone buzzed with a message from Jim Thome.
“I answered them, too, as much as I possibly could. It was good to talk to a lot of people I hadn’t heard from in a long time,” Gardenhire said.
He received a text from Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington, he said, which impressed him. “I thought that was really cool, that he would think to do something like that,” Gardenhire said.
He didn’t receive a congratulatory message from President Obama, though, he joked, but that wasn’t a surprise. “Mr. Obama is a White Sox fan,” Gardenhire said with a laugh.
• Lefthander Brian Duensing will perform the traditional “Let’s play hockey!” announcement before Tuesday’s Wild game in St. Paul, though the lefthander may have conflicted loyalties. That’s because Duensing gave his son, born last Monday, the name Boston Matthew. Minnesota’s opponent on Tuesday? The Boston Bruins.
“Amazing, huh?” Duensing said with a laugh. He’s got a goal for his performance on Tuesday, he said. “I’m going to try to sound Minnesotan,” the Nebraska native said. “I hope I don’t let anybody down. I’d probably get booed off the ice.”
• With Saturday’s game being broadcast by Fox Sports 1, how did FSN play-by-play man Dick Bremer spend his afternoon off? Listening to a webcast of Northwestern’s 6-2 loss to Illinois. “I don’t have an unbiased opinion, but I thought they did a very nice job,” he said of the Wildcats announcers — including his son, Erik, making his play-by-play debut.