While Justin Morneau and Denard Span are out of the Twins’ starting lineup tonight due to injury, we at least have some encouraging news about the face of the franchise to pass along.
According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Joe Mauer will be the designated hitter tomorrow in his first minor league rehab game with High-A Fort Myers.
Mauer, who caught five innings and threw out a baserunner earlier today, has been playing in extended spring training games for a little over a week now. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list earlier this week, so he won’t be eligible to return until June 12. Setbacks are certainly possible, but his recent progress suggests he could be ready to rejoin the Twins on or around that date.
Mauer was batting .235/.289/.265 with one double and four RBI over his first 38 plate appearances before going on the disabled list with bilateral leg weakness in April.
The Cubs had a scare on Wednesday night when third baseman Kris Bryant left with an apparent ankle injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters hit a pop up that veered just into foul territory near the third base bag. Bryant caught it but his momentum took him back into fair territory. In doing so, he stepped awkwardly on the third base bag and appeared to twist his ankle. Bryant needed the assistance of manager Joe Maddon and the team trainer to get off the field.
Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Bryant was 2-for-3 on the night before departing and being replaced by Jeimer Candelario. He’s now hitting .264/.395/.520 with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 329 plate appearances. Needless to say, the 39-39 Cubs would see their playoff odds hurt immensely if Bryant were to miss a significant amount of time.
Hector Gomez reports Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, to be held in two weeks at Marlins Park in Miami. So far, Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the only other confirmed participant.
Sano, 24, is having an outstanding season, batting .274/.375/.548 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 293 plate appearances. According to MLB’s Statcast, only Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (96.7 MPH) has a higher average exit velocity than Sano (96.4 MPH).
Brian Dozier was the last member of the Twins to participate in the Home Run Derby. In 2014 at Target Field, Dozier failed to make it into the second round after hitting only two home runs. Justin Morneau is the only Twin to have ever won the Home Run Derby, as he beat Josh Hamilton 5-3 in the finals of the 2008 Derby at Yankee Stadium — although Hamilton out-homered him in total 35 to 22.