KANSAS CITY, MO. – Josh Donaldson wrapped a strap around his waist and pulled large barbells in the Kauffman Stadium dirt several times before Friday’s game. He jumped up and down on one foot. He took a couple of quick three-step bursts forward and back.
Then he conferred with two members of the Twins’ medical staff, and went back inside. And 10 minutes later came the verdict: Not yet.
Donaldson’s pregame test of his sore right calf convinced the Twins that their new third baseman needs more time, and they put him on the 10-day injured list to get it. The move is backdated to Tuesday, which means he will be eligible to play once the Twins return to Target Field next Friday.
Following the Twins’ 3-2 loss to Kansas City on Friday night, the team used Donaldson’s open roster spot to activate righthander Jake Odorizzi, who is making his first start of the season on Saturday night. Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza figure to get most of the playing time while Donaldson is out.
“He looks fine to the eye doing a lot of these things, but we are going to make sure this is not going to be a long-term issue,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Donaldson, who missed parts of the 2017 and ’18 seasons because of calf issues. Donaldson left the game against Cleveland on July 31 because of tightness in his right calf, but the Twins did not immediately put him on the injured list in hopes he could recover quickly. But progress has been slow.
“Even if you’re close with a muscle injury and you’re able to do a lot, it doesn’t mean you’re 100 percent,” Baldelli said. “I want to make sure he’s 100 percent out there.”
Buck banged up
Donaldson isn’t the only player trying to figure out how to deal with lingering soreness. Center fielder Byron Buxton admitted Friday that, 11 months after a surgeon stitched up the labrum in his right shoulder, he still occasionally feels minor pain in it. And his left foot, sprained during an intrasquad game July 13, still has minor flare-ups, too.
Which probably makes his sudden power display even more impressive.
“Shoulder-wise, I’m still trying to figure out what I can do. I know it’s not going to [be] reinjured, but there are days when it’s a little bit more sore than others,” said Buxton, who homered at Pittsburgh on Thursday, and again at Kansas City on Friday. “Trying to figure out what I can do to manage that soreness, and not overdo it.”
As for his foot, “it’s getting better. It’s still not where I want it to be, but it’s tolerable,” Buxton said. “So as long as it’s tolerable and not going to get worse, I want to be out there playing and trying to help us do what we can to get to a World Series and bring it home.”
His homers are helping. Buxton’s home run Friday traveled 442 feet, as measured by StatCast, the Twins’ second-longest of the season after Max Kepler’s 444-footer July 31 vs. Cleveland.
• Nelson Cruz was out of the starting lineup for the first time this year. It was a planned off day, Baldelli said, although it came against Jakob Junis, whom Cruz is 0-for-6 against his career. Cruz pinch hit in the ninth inning but struck out against Trevor Rosenthal for the final out of the game.
• Second baseman Luis Arraez did not play for a second day in a row, and a sore knee is to blame, Baldelli said: “I would call it very minor. I would say in the next day or two, he’s going to be out there starting again.”
• Friday’s game was a rarity: No anthem was played before it started. Both teams lined up along the baselines as usual, but technical difficulties with the prerecorded version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” prevented it from playing, and the teams eventually returned to their dugout.