Nick Punto unsure about returning to Twins in 2011

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The Twins took care of a little paperwork on Friday, exercising outfielder Jason Kubel’s $5.25 million option for 2011 and declining a $5 million option on infielder Nick Punto.

Punto, 32, hit just .238/.313/.302 with only one home run and 11 doubles in 252 at-bats this past year while earning $4 million.  That stat line didn’t exactly deserve a raise, so the Twins cut him loose over a week before they had to and will allow him to test the free agent market.

It sounds like Punto is open to returning to the Twins in 2011 at a lesser salary and manager Ron Gardenhire does like his infield glove and versatility.  But it’s too early in the offseason to know for sure if he will be back.

“We’ll just see what develops from there,” Punto’s agent Jeff Caufield told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, shortly after learning that the option was declined.

The Phillies attempted to sign Punto back in 2008 before the Twins offered him a two-year contract with an option for 2011.  The Fightins might have interest again with an aging infield.

Mitch Haniger leaves game with oblique injury

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Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger left Tuesday night’s game against the Tigers with a strained oblique, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Haniger suffered the injury running after hitting a single in the third inning. He was 2-for-2 when he exited the game.

Haniger will almost certainly be placed on the 10-day disabled list as a result of the injury. It’s a big loss for the Mariners, as he entered the night batting .321/.430/.590 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 93 plate appearances.

Danny Valencia, who pinch-ran for Haniger and stayed in the game to play right field, is likely to take Haniger’s spot in the lineup and in the outfield during his absence.

Jose Altuve, Teoscar Hernandez leave game after collision

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Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez collided attempting to catch a shallow fly ball hit by Indians catcher Yan Gomes in the bottom of the eighth inning during Tuesday night’s game.

Hernandez, who was called up earlier on Tuesday, had just come into the game as a defensive replacement for Carlos Beltran. George Springer entered the game in right field in Hernandez’s place after Hernandez was carted off the field. Altuve was replaced at second base by Marwin Gonzalez.

The Astros should have updates on the conditions of both players after the game. Losing Altuve would be a big deal for the first-place Astros, as he entered the game batting .324/.393/.459 with seven stolen bases.