MINNEAPOLIS — It must feel strange to be in September, with expanded rosters and so many outfielders walking around the clubhouse, for the Twins to suddenly be short-handed out there.
The preference bordering on requirement to fill three outfield spots might be more difficult for the next day or two, as the Twins nurse some injuries back to health.
Jake Cave (groin) and Nelson Cruz (left wrist) left Friday’s game with injuries. The Twins said that they consider each of them day-to-day. Manager Rocco Baldelli sounded optimistic that neither player would miss an extended period of time, but of course the Twins will further evaluated the situation after a night’s rest and set a plan from there.
I count 11 players currently on the active roster that could play outfield if the situation required it. But as far as legitimate options the Twins are getting pretty thin. (Cruz doesn’t necessarily cut down their outfield mix; it just costs them their best hitter and it appears the wrist problems continue to nag him.)
Eddie Rosario should be good to go. Max Kepler has dealt with separate lower-body issues this season, but among the healthy options, he’s a good one for the Twins. LaMonte Wade Jr. took over midway through Friday’s game, and he should be considered a good option at this point.
Jake Cave left Friday’s game with a groin injury, and the Twins consider him day-to-day. Cave said that he’ll have an MRI on Saturday to evaluate his injury. Both Cave and manager Rocco Baldelli noted that the fact that Cave did sprint to first base — as he usually does — and there was no pulling sensation, that he might have avoided severe damage. (Wade replaced Cave as a pinch runner in the 5th inning Friday, and he scored on Jorge Polanco’s base hit later that inning.)
Byron Buxton (subluxated shoulder) can run around in the outfield and on the bases, but he’s not at the point with a bat where the Twins would consider sending him to the plate to swing away. For now, he’s a late-inning option at most, I’d imagine.
Marwin Gonzalez is still out with an abdominal injury and he said that this is the first time in his career he’s deal with that specific pain.
Ian Miller is up after getting a September call-up. Miller hit .264/.346/.431 in Triple-A this season, mostly in the Pacific Coast League, a league known for its offense. He successfully stole 35 bags in 42 tries in the minors this season.
Ehire Adrianza (illness) is not feeling well, and by the sound of things before Friday’s game, he might not physically be well enough to play this weekend.
Luis Arraez is an infielder by trade. He can play in the outfield if he’s needed, and he has on occasion this year. He’s held down left field for 92 innings this season.
Willians Astudillo is a catcher by trade. He stood at second base the other day and he acquitted himself well, in my opinion. He’s limited when compared with other big-league athletes, no doubt. But if needed in a pinch I believe there’s approximately a 0% chance that he would back down from the challenge/opportunity.
Mitch Garver could play some corner outfield but my guess is that the Twins don’t want one of their catchers — and one of their best hitters — to run around with an outfield glove in a season that he’s dealt with an ankle injury.
So the Twins, for now, will wait to see what the weekend holds for Cave. They’ll continue to mark time and wait for Buxton’s strength to return to his left shoulder (which, by the way, does not sound imminent). And in the meantime they’ll make do with what they have, Baldelli said.
The Twins feel they’ve covered themselves well with the added roster flexibility. And even so, they’re shorter on options than they’d like to be at the moment. As of Friday night there was no plan to make roster additions, Baldelli said.