I probably should have left this one for Aaron, but oh well…
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Joe Christensen tweeted today that Twins manager Rob Gardenhire offered strong hints that shortstop Trevor Plouffe will soon be promoted from Triple-A Rochester.
Plouffe, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2004, made his major league debut last season and looked overmatched. While he did deliver two homers in 41 at-bats, he batted just .146 and finished with a 14/0 K/BB ratio.
This season, though, Plouffe seems to have made some strides in Triple-A. The 24-year-old is hitting .282/.344/.590 with six homers in 21 games. That’s a .934 OPS for a guy who has never topped 750 in his previous minor league stops. Plouffe has actually been incredibly consistent in his mediocrity, finishing with OPSs of .736, .723, .720 and .730 between Double- and Triple-A the last four years.
He’d certainly be an asset to the Twins if he could post a .730 OPS in the majors right now. The team is getting a .449 OPS out of its second basemen and a .504 mark at shortstop. Alexi Casilla has been the starter at short, while the Twins have given defensive liabilities Michael Cuddyer and Luke Hughes time at second as Tsuyoshi Nishioka recovers from a broken leg.
When the Twins do promote Plouffe, they might as well give him a look as the everyday shortstop. He does have some experience at second, but Casilla has a lot more. Plus, if Plouffe hits, the Twins will probably want to stick with him after Nishioka returns. Ideally, Plouffe would hit enough to secure the job and send Casilla back to a utility role for the final four months of the season.
Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been diagnosed with a fractured left hand, per a report from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, adds The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, and is expected miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks in recovery before he’s cleared to throw again. In a best-case scenario, the lefty will be ready to pitch again before the All-Star break, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.
The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. The Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.
This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”