It’s increasingly likely that Josh Willingham has already taken his final at-bat for the Twins this year.
Willingham is currently shut down due to a sprained ligament in his left shoulder suffered when he slammed into the left field fence Monday while trying to catch a home run. John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that he still felt a “pinch” in his shoulder while trying swing a bat earlier today. With that in mind, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Willingham could miss the final six games of the season.
“We’re going to be very careful about this,” Gardenhire said. “I have to go by what he says, and right now he can’t play. And I don’t plan on putting him out there until he can do it. If anybody could play, he would play, but he doesn’t feel it right now.”
The Twins are out of the race, so there’s little reason to risk putting him back out there if he’s not 100 percent. Best to just start his offseason early.
Willingham is currently enjoying the best season of his career, batting .260/.366/.524 with 35 home runs, 110 RBI and an .890 OPS in 145 games played. The 33-year-old is owed $7 million in each of the next two seasons.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.