Josh Willingham out 4-6 weeks after knee surgery

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Whatever slim chance the Twins had of getting something decent in return for Josh Willingham before the July 31 trade deadline is gone, as he’ll miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.

As of yesterday afternoon Willingham and the Twins were saying he was optimistic about avoiding surgery and returning from the disabled list in the minimum 15 days. Of course, that came after the Twins let Willingham limp around on what was clearly a bum knee for several weeks, continuing what has now been a three-year pattern of odd injury handling in Minnesota.

Willingham’s injury means the Twins will likely go with Oswaldo Arcia as their everyday left fielder, leaving Chris Parmelee in right field and opening up designated hitter for Ryan Doumit (and occasionally Joe Mauer). Willingham has struggled all season, hitting just .224 with a .398 slugging percentage following a career-year at age 33 in 2012 that had many people wondering if the Twins should trade him at the peak of his value. He’s under contract for $7 million next season.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.