Nelson Cruz hasn’t missed a beat in his return to action after he ruptured the ECU tendon in his left wrist and landed on the injured list. In his first start on Monday he went 2-for-5 with an RBI and Tuesday night he was 4-for-5, with a solo homer, three doubles and three RBI.
Cruz needed the minimum 10 days on the IL before being activated. He traveled with the team during its recently-completed road trip to Milwaukee and Texas, swinging the bat with no problems during workouts.
“It feels good,” he said. “I don’t feel anything.”
Cruz said he will need no special maintenance for the wrist during the final weeks of the season. Part of the reason for that is Cruz has been doing strengthening exercises since he injured his wrist earlier in the season. When he met with hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham in New York on Aug. 12, he was told to continue his maintenance program.
He said speaking with Graham, as well as former Twin Justin Morneau, who had the same thing happen to him during his career, eased his mind about making a quick return to the lineup as the Twins push for the A.L. Central division championship.
“I keep working on a daily basis,” Cruz said. “I do my forearms and my wrists. The doctor said that the stuff that I do on a daily basis will compensate for [the injury] and make it stronger.”
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, a stickler for making sure players get days off during the season, regularly checks in with his players to see how they are feeling. Cruz’s wrist will not influence how often he asks him if he needs break.
“I’m sure he’s going to get some occasional time off, but we’ll go basically how he’s feeling,” Baldelli said. “In some ways, he might even be feeling better right now — from everything that he says and everything that we get from medical opinions — he might be in even better shape now than before the issue.”
That’s why Cruz’s case is so remarkable. How often is someone better off because of an injury?
“Yeah, it’s still shocking,” Cruz said. “The first few days, in the back of my mind, I was waiting for the pain when I moved it. Now I’m used to it.”
Righthander Trevor Hildenberger has been activated from the injured list and returned to the active roster at Class AAA Rochester after recovering from a flexor mass strain that kept him off the mound since June 8.
Hildenberger will now look to get back on track after emerging as a reliable reliever for Paul Molitor in 2017 only to struggle in 2018 and get off to a horrid start this season. In 19 games Hildenberger had a 8.36 ERA and gave up 15.4 hits per nine innings.
Hildenberger was sent to Rochester on May 16 but gave up 10 runs over 10⅔ innings before being diagnosed with the flexor mass strain.
Save that squirrel
There were still chuckles in the clubhouse Tuesday after a squirrel ran across the field during Cruz’s at bat in the first inning Monday, leading to a brief stoppage in play. The squirrel ended up entering the Twins dugout, sending some players and coaches scurrying. Miguel Sano wanted no part of the animal, leaving the dugout entirely.
When asked what happened to the squirrel, Baldelli joked: “It might still be behind the dugout.”
Joking or not, the squirrel was back Tuesday night, dashing through Max Kepler’s legs while he took his lead at first base in the bottom of the fifth inning and ending up in the visitors dugout.
In the two innings that the squirrel has appeared at Target Field, the Twins have scored six runs.