After Sunday's loss to Oakland, outfielder Max Kepler, utility player Willians Astudillo and starting pitcher Kenta Maeda all took up residency in the Twins training room because of a variety of maladies.
That place might have to start taking reservations soon.
Center fielder Byron Buxton (right hip strain), outfielder/first baseman Alex Kirilloff (right wrist sprain) and lefthander Devin Smeltzer (left elbow inflammation) are on the 10-day injured list. Outfielder Jake Cave recently went on the 60-day IL because of a stress reaction in his lower back, joining righthander Edwar Colina, who has been there since spring training because of right elbow inflammation.
And then came Monday, when Astudillo — a day after leaving his first start of the season at catcher — had to replace Mitch Garver in the fourth inning.
Astudillo left Sunday because of a left hand contusion after getting hit by a pitch. He stayed in the game for another plate appearance but had trouble gripping the bat.
Manager Rocco Baldelli said Monday that Astudillo's swelling and pain had improved, enough so that Astudillo could play if needed.
And he was. Garver took a foul ball off his right knee in the first inning, appeared to have trouble running the bases in the second inning and soon left because of a right knee contusion. The Twins said he was day-to-day.
"There was no doubt that he should not have continued on catching or swinging the bat or running or anything," Baldelli said after the Twins lost 16-4 to the White Sox. "Honestly, he could barely talk when we went out there to check on him."
Kepler was also absent from the lineup because of a strained hamstring suffered late in Sunday's game.
"He may need a little time before we get him back out there starting a ballgame, playing nine innings and asking him to go full speed," Baldelli said. "That hamstring, I would call it a minor tweak or tightness. But something we can work through and doesn't appear to be an IL sort of issue for him."
Start in question
Maeda stayed in Sunday's game despite feeling tightness in his groin, an issue Baldelli said the righthander has dealt with and played through in his career. Baldelli said Maeda rested Monday but will throw during batting practice Tuesday to see how he feels.
"If this subsides and is something he can work through, I think he has a chance to make his next start," Baldelli said. "If it's something that is lingering and is going to affect him in any way, I could see him missing a start as well."
Baldelli added Maeda had stressed how mild he considered this injury, though Baldelli doesn't "want it to carry on throughout the season and have him deal with over the long haul."
Kirilloff swings away
Kirilloff took batting practice on the field Monday as part of the rookie's injury recovery and could take the field for Class AAA St. Paul soon.
"I was out there, I was shagging, I was watching him swing, and I think he looked pretty good," Baldelli said. "We can see Alex actually playing in some rehab games this week. So which day we're definitely doing it, I'm not sure if I can put my thumb on the actual day yet. But this is a great sign."
The rehab assignment will be more of a test to see if Kirilloff can find a way to play through the injury than just a box to check. It's still possible surgery might be in Kirilloff's future.
Center field carousel
With Buxton still working on ramping up to his full-speed running and backup center fielder Kepler also out, the Twins have a conundrum in the outfield. They put Kyle Garlick in right field, Luis Arraez in left and Rob Refsnyder in center Monday. Refsnyder, called up Saturday, played the final inning for Kepler on Sunday, marking the first time he had played center field in the major leagues.
"The ball flies better in the big leagues. I mean there's just no doubt about it," said Refsnyder, who went 4-for-4 Monday and is 6-for-8 in two games with the Twins. "… I'm going to make no preconceived notion that, I mean, it's going to be a challenge every day getting the work in and just trying to prepare as much as possible. I can't kind of hide behind the fact that I've never done it at the major league level."
Baldelli called it "not an ideal situation," adding that Garlick will practice some at center as well so that there's at least two options.
"It's just a less than optimal configuration for us and something we have to deal with," Baldelli said "We're going to have to rely on guys to just go get the job done."