BOSTON — Ricky Nolasco went to the bullpen at Fenway Park around noon Thursday, warmed up with some long toss in the outfield, then took the mound to test his sore right ankle.
“It didn’t last long,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Before Nolasco had thrown a dozen pitches, Molitor’s mind was made up: The veteran righthander is headed to the disabled list, his season interrupted for a second time by injury. And this one, they don’t know how much time it will cost him.
“I thought it was getting better. I can walk on it, but it’s just that certain angle in there [when he pushes off the rubber], that’s just shooting pain,” said Nolasco, sounding depressed over the lingering injury. “I threw 8-10 pitches and had to stop. It’s still killing me.”
Nolasco will undergo a CT scan in Minneapolis on Friday, he said, and doctors will determine whether further treatment, perhaps even surgery, is necessary. The injury is an impingement that occurs when he strides, with his ankle bone striking a small piece of bone that doctors believe may have been the result of a long-ago injury. “The only time I remember rolling my ankle was in high school,” Nolasco said. “Obviously, I must have had a little fragment in there at that time, but I’ve thrown a zillion pitches since then.”
With Nolasco’s status cleared up, so too are the Twins’ pitching plans. Tommy Milone was activated to take Nolasco’s roster spot; he’ll start today’s 3:05 p.m. CT game and presumably will remain in the rotation for awhile. Rookie righthander J.R. Graham will be available in the bullpen today, but if the Twins avoid overusing the bullpen, Molitor said Graham will probably start an all-bullpen game Saturday against Milwaukee in Target Field.
The Twins face a knuckleball pitcher — Red Sox righthander Steven Wright — for the first time this season today, as they try to split the four-game series in Fenway Park. They have already clinched the season series with Boston, four games to two, for the first time since 2006.
The Red Sox have scrambled their lineup a bit, moving rookie Mookie Betts down to seventh and hot-hitting shortstop Xander Bogaerts to fifth, with Hanley Ramirez up to second. Mindful that they played two games yesterday, Molitor has given Hunter a second straight day as designated hitter, with Eddie Rosario, on an eight-game hitting streak, batting fifth and playing right field.
Here are the lineups for today’s game: