The ring finger on Byron Buxton’s right hand was lacerated and swollen, but X-rays found no further damage. The injury that his finger inflicted on the Twins defense might have been much more serious.
Buxton’s hand snagged Eddie Rosario’s spike as the left fielder dived past him to catch a sinking liner in the sixth inning Monday, and when it began swelling up, the Twins removed him from the game, sending Ehire Adrianza up to pinch-hit for him. With Robbie Grossman serving as designated hitter, manager Paul Molitor sent Adrianza, an infielder, to left field in the seventh, with Rosario shifting to center.
Both out-of-position outfielders had balls needing out-of-the-ordinary effort hit to them during Houston’s 11-run rally. Neither made the play that a more experienced outfielder might have.
Adrianza, whose outfield experience over his 11-year pro career consists of three games in left field for Class AAA Rochester last month, scurried back to the warning track to chase down Marwin Gonzalez’s bases-loaded blast. He turned and jumped at the last moment, but it glanced off his glove.
“I thought he played the ball pretty well, actually,” Molitor said. “He got back there and leaped and just didn’t make the catch.”
Four batters later, Rosario raced in to pursue Josh Reddick’s pop fly to shallow center.
“He got there,” Molitor said. “Sometimes you go into a dive and your eyes don’t track it into the glove. We had him in the right spot to make the play, and we just couldn’t make the catch.”
Buxton said the finger was painful after the game, but “I was very relieved. It could have been worse than it was. Hopefully I’ll be back out there tomorrow.”
Sting of a slump
Miguel Sano let his frustrations show after popping up in the fourth inning. He pounded his bat on the ground, loudly cracking the handle, after extending his slump to 1-for-18.
“At some point, you have to get mad and get tired of what you’re doing, especially when you get a pitch you should hit and you’re not hitting it because you’re not doing the right thing,” he said. “But I made some adjustments throughout the game.”
They must have worked. An inning later, Sano slammed a 417-foot homer to center, his 12th home run but first in a week.
“It felt normal, because I hit it out of the park, straight through the middle,” he said. “I’m working. I cannot tell you that one swing will bring me back to what I was doing earlier in the year, but it’s a start.”
Rush to the majors
Two pitchers, lefthander Jason Wheeler and righthander Drew Rucinski, arrived in the Twin Cities on Monday morning and came straight to Target Field.
Wheeler, an eighth-round pick in the 2011 draft, was summoned to protect the bullpen in case of another extra-inning game. A career starter, he has never pitched out of the bullpen regularly — or pitched in the majors, either.
“It’s really cool to see a jersey with my name on it,” said Wheeler, who was scheduled to start for Class AAA Rochester on Monday, until he got a surprise phone call from manager Mike Quade late Sunday. “I always thought I could reach the big leagues.” More than a dozen family and friends rushed to Minnesota to see his debut, but he didn’t get into Monday’s game.
Rucinski pitched the ninth inning, gave up three runs, and was returned to Rochester after the game. The Twins will recall lefthander Buddy Boshers in time for Tuesday’s game, Molitor said.
• Rochester outfielder Daniel Palka, who hit 34 home runs in the minor leagues last year, is out indefintely after he fractured the index finger on his left (throwing) hand Saturday.
• Lefthander Adam Wilk, who was designated for assignment Friday, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Rochester.