Twins clear Josh Willingham for rehab assignment

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Twins outfielder Josh Willingham has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment after sitting out since the first week of the season with a wrist injury from a hit by pitch.

Tyler Mason of FSN North reports that Willingham will rehab at Triple-A Rochester after convincing the Twins he was healthy by taking batting practice today.

Willingham was a fantastic free agent pickup for the Twins in 2012, having a career season in Year 1 of a three-year, $21 million deal, but he was injured and ineffective for most of last season and now at age 35 played just six games before going on the DL this year.

A.J. Hinch: “If it was any other time of the year, [José Altuve] wouldn’t be in the lineup.”

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It has been evident throughout the playoffs that Astros second baseman José Altuve’s right knee is bothering him. Altuve battled a right knee issue in July, then banged it up again in Game 2 of the ALDS and it’s been a problem ever since.

Manager A.J. Hinch said that if it were the regular season, he wouldn’t put Altuve in the lineup. Per MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the full quote:

He’s hurt. And if it was any other time of the year, he wouldn’t be in the lineup or wouldn’t be playing. He’d probably be on the DL. … But he’s showing up every day in good spirits, ready to go, giving 100 percent of what he’s got. He should be commended.

Hinch also said of Altuve, “His teammates revere him. The production that he’s doing on one leg is pretty incredible. And he’s trying not to talk about it. And therefore I am.”

During the ALCS, Altuve has hit .250/.368/.313 in 16 at-bats. He has just one extra-base hit but he has racked up three singles and drawn three walks while scoring four runs. Hinch has had Marwin González start at second base Games 3 and 4 and is doing so again on Thursday night in Game 5.