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Cause for concern: Josh Donaldson no stranger to dealing with calf issues

Josh Donaldson
Minnesota Twins’ Josh Donaldson follows through on a solo home run off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson left the team’s 4-1 victory over Cleveland on Friday night at Target Field in the bottom of the second inning because of tightness in his right calf. Ehire Adrianza pinch hit for Donaldson and the Twins announced the veteran is day-to-day.

The team will feel fortunate if that’s the case, given Donaldson’s past issues with calf injuries.

He missed 38 games because of a right calf strain while with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, but still hit  .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs in 113 games that season. However, his 2018 season, split between the Blue Jays and Cleveland, was derailed by injuries, including right shoulder inflammation and a left calf strain. He played 36 games with Toronto and 16 after being traded to Cleveland on Aug. 31. Earlier this week in an Instagram post, Donaldson acknowledged that he’s torn “both of my calves a total of seven times in two years.”

“I wouldn’t consider this, from talking with Josh, from talking with the trainers, to be a major issue,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I believe he even jogged off the field and kind of got down the stairs fine and just said, ‘I’m not going to be able to finish,’ basically. But he was very under control when talking about it all, did not seem overly worked up. The training staff doesn’t think it’s going to be a long-term issue of any kind. We’re going to treat it day-to-day.

“There’s no moves to announce or anything like that. I’m hoping that we don’t have to go down that route at all. We’re going to treat it as, show up (Saturday), see how he’s feeling. I wouldn’t say it’s probably super likely that he’s going to be running around out there and starting and playing the whole game. But we’ll see how available he is to do something during the day or over the next couple of days.”

The issue is that Twins (5-2) are playing only a 60-game regular season this summer, so if Donaldson’s injury lingers that will present a problem.

Donaldson joined Atlanta last season as a free agent and hit .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs and 94 RBIs in 155 games. That earned him NL Comeback Player of the Year honors. The 34-year-old signed a four-year, $92 million free agent contract with the Twins this offseason and has replaced Miguel Sano at third base. Sano has moved to first, although Marwin Gonzalez replaced the slumping Sano in the Twins’ lineup on Friday.

After being presented with the Comeback Player of the Year award before the Twins played the Cardinals this week at Target Field, Donaldson posted about his calf issues on Instagram. “Special thanks to (Arizona Cardinals wide receiver) Larry Fitzgerald for getting me in touch with Dr. Josh Sandell whom after three days of working with me had me running pain free after tearing both of my calves a total of seven times in two years,” Donaldson wrote in a note that went on to thank many for helping him have a successful season in Atlanta.

The Twins scored three runs off Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger in the top of the first inning Friday as Max Kepler led off with a home run and Eddie Rosario hit a two-run double to right to score Donaldson and Nelson Cruz. Donaldson had singled to left and moved to second when Cruz walked. Donaldson had two assists in the top of the second inning, but after Alex Avila homered to make it 3-0 and Kepler grounded to first in the bottom of the inning, Donaldson was replaced.

Baldelli was unclear on exactly when Donaldson injured his calf. “I’m not actually sure,” Baldelli said. “We were talking about that during the game. When we come in, really I want to know how he’s doing. I’m not really sure how he did it. We know that he was on base but he came in to make a play, caught the ball off the short hop and had to make a move out there. I have not heard anything specific. I’m sure we’ll find that out soon.”