LaMonte Wade Jr. thought he had it. As Elvis Andrus' long fly ball descended toward the Rangers' bullpen, Wade reached up, jumped — and collided with the fence as the ball flew over it.

His glove got caught on the wall, and Wade's not sure precisely when his right thumb became dislocated. But when he looked down, "I saw it was crooked, and knew that wasn't right," the rookie outfielder said.

It wasn't, and Wade wore a splint on it after the game. He'll be wearing it for a while.

"He's going to be out for some time," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I don't think we're talking about 10 days on the [injured list]. We're talking about letting this thing heal before we can actually say."

It's a tough break for Wade, who was just called up from Class AAA Rochester on Saturday morning when first baseman C.J. Cron went on the injured list. Wade was hit by a pitch in his MLB debut last week in Chicago, and now he gets injured in his second big-league game.

"I dislocated my thumb, but we got the win. I've been a part of a major league win," Wade said. "That's the positive I'm taking out of it."

Jake Cave will be called up Sunday to take Wade's place.

"When we went out there, I don't blame him, he didn't want to look at it," Baldelli said. "He gave up his body, he went after that ball and it didn't work out for him. Physically, he's going to be hurting for a little while. But we appreciate the effort."

Cron's thumb needs time

Cron doubled twice Friday night, which might make it seem he feels pretty good. But that's not the case.

"That's a very surface-level way to look at it — 'He got two hits, he should be fine,' " Baldelli said. "There were times earlier in that game when he did not look like himself at all, swinging the bat."

Baldelli considered pulling Cron before the game ended, in fact. And after the game, the Twins decided that their first baseman needs some time to let his swollen right thumb heal. Cron was placed on the injured list Saturday morning, and Wade was brought back — until he ironically suffered a thumb injury of his own.

"It's been going on for a little while. This is not a typical bruised thumb," Baldelli said of Cron's injury. "Hitters, you get jammed one day and up with a pretty sore thumb. … We were all in agreement that it needs a little time."

He will have at least 10 days, meaning Cron is eligible to return for the Twins' first home game after the All-Star break, though "there's really no way to know" if he will heal that fast, Baldelli said. "This could be something that in some way, shape or form lingers for a little while. These aren't the kinds of things that just go away after a few days."

Gibson to be opener

Kyle Gibson volunteered for relief duty during the Twins' 18-inning loss a couple of weeks ago. Now he's volunteered for another unusual role, too.

Rather than throw a bullpen session Sunday and then take another four days off over the All-Star break, Gibson will start the first-half finale against the Rangers, serving as an "opener" for the first time in his career.

Pitching coach Wes Johnson "basically said, 'You're telling me you'd rather face hitters than just throw a longer bullpen,' " Gibson said. "I said, 'Hey, if you want me to throw a couple innings, I'm in.' "

Gibson said he normally throws 30-35 pitches on the third day after his start. This will be the fourth day, so he might go a little longer, he said, especially since the Twins don't play again until Friday.

"It's just a good way for me to stay sharp for the second half," he said.

Gibson is expected to be followed by rookie Devin Smeltzer, who arrived in the Twin Cities on Saturday and briefly worked out with Johnson on the field after the Twins' victory. The lefthander owns a 3.65 ERA in two big-league starts this year, including six shutout innings in his May 28 debut against Milwaukee, and a 3.60 ERA in five starts at Rochester since then.

Righthander Kohl Stewart, who retired all four batters he faced Friday after being recalled when Blake Parker was put on the paternity list, was sent back to Rochester to make room for Smeltzer.