Josh Willingham returned to the Twins lineup Tuesday after receiving a cortisone shot in his left knee Sunday. Speed is not a main component of Willingham’s game, but he had a hitch in his giddyup when he tried to run.
Manager Ron Gardenhire is keeping an eye on the situation. Willingham was the designated hitter Wednesday for the second consecutive game.
“Not perfect right now, I can tell you that,” Gardenhire said. “He went out and did some extra work and we will see how this thing goes.
“It wasn’t a great night [Tuesday] as far as his running around on his leg, so I’m a little concerned.”
The cortisone shot was necessary for a knee that has been bugging Willingham for a chunk of the season. The Twins hoped that an injection Sunday, followed by an off day Monday, would be enough for Willingham to feel as spry as the burly slugger can be.
Sometimes it takes a few days for the medication to take effect, so now the Twins hope Willingham will improve over the next couple of days.
“That might be a valid point,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “It takes a few days for that stuff to kick in and solve some of the problems he’s had there.”
Willingham didn’t appear to be limited when he raced from first to third on Justin Morneau’s single in the third inning Wednesday. He eventually scored on a single by Trevor Plouffe.
The Twins announced they have signed 23 players from the first-year player draft held earlier this month — including first-round selection Kohl Stewart for $4,544,400.
With 21 of their top 25 picks signed, they expect to sign five more from the class — including second-round pick Ryan Eades, a righthander from LSU; fifth-round pick Aaron Slegers, a righthander from Indiana University; and eighth-round pick Dustin DeMuth, a third baseman and Slegers’ teammate at Indiana.
The Twins signed three of their top 10 picks for less than the assigned pick value given by Major League Baseball. Catcher Stuart Turner, a third-round pick, signed for $550,000 when the assigned value was $703,000; seventh-round pick righthander Brian Gilbert ($120,000 instead of $196,600) and ninth-round pick catcher Mitchell Garver, ($40,000 instead of $148,100) also agreed to deals less than the assigned value. The bonus figures are based on reports from Baseball America. In all, the Twins saved $337,700 from those deals.
That gave them more than enough room to sign fourth-round pick Stephen Gonsalves, a prep lefthander from San Diego, for $700,000. The assigned value for that pick was $468,200. The Twins have a little over $100,000 to sweeten the pot for other picks if needed.
Eades, Slegers and DeMuth reached the College World Series with their teams, and the Twins are waiting for that tournament to end before reaching deals with them. LSU has been eliminated, so the Twins can start working on a deal with Eades.
• Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez (concussion) is expected to be added to the Class A Fort Myers roster to begin a minor league rehabilitation stint. Ramirez has been cleared by MLB to be reinstated any time the Twins feel he’s ready.
• Ryan expects outfielder Aaron Hicks (left hamstring) to go on a minor league rehab assignment once he’s ready, but that’s still several days away.