KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The ailing Minnesota Twins added two more names to their injured list Saturday when Jake Odorizzi was sidelined with bruised ribs and fellow right-hander Zack Littell was shut down because of right elbow inflammation.
Both players were hurt during a 7-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
The Twins also moved right-hander Homer Bailey to the 45-day injured list after a setback in his recovery from biceps tendinitis. The moves allowed the Twins to purchase the contract of left-hander Danny Coulombe and recall right-hander Sean Poppen to the active roster. Both had been on the four-man taxi squad for the road trip.
“Most teams are dealing with rosters that don’t necessarily look like they looked on opening day,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, whose team has been especially hard hit. “Some of these teams – and we want to be in this group – just continually go out there and play and find ways to win. Our guys make no excuses.”
There would be plenty of excuses to make, though.
Talented outfielder Byron Buxton is dealing with left shoulder inflammation and catcher Mitch Garver an intercostal strain that landed both on the injured list this week. Third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has a strained right calf, has not played since July 31. Right-hander Cody Stashak has been out nearly two weeks with lower back inflammation.
None of those players are expected back any time soon.
“I’m not really focused on any of the individual dates right now,” Baldelli said before the series opener. “I’m not sure if those guys are going to be meeting us at (on Monday in Cleveland). Could it be close? Yes. I think it could be close. Is it possible? Yes. But I wouldn’t call it likely and just leave it at that, because we’re really not sure at this point.”
Just about the only positive injury news for the Twins was the return of Luis Arraez to the lineup Saturday night. He had missed three straight games with some lingering soreness in his right knee.
It’s not just that the injuries have occurred to so many players but also the quality of talent that has gone down. Donaldson signed a $92 million, four-year contract to provide some pop to the lineup, but the former American League MVP has had just 22 at-bats in seven games. Buxton is a former No. 2 overall draft pick who has shown signs of stardom when he’s been able to stay healthy, though the inability this season is merely the continuation of a career-long trend.
Now the Twins have lost Odorizzi, who was 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA while earning his first All-Star nod last season. He left in the fourth inning Friday night after he was drilled in the side by a liner off the bat of Alex Gordon.
“I saw the replay, and it missed my elbow by a couple inches,” Odorizzi said. “All things considered, I feel pretty lucky to have missed that. I’ll be good in a little while. I just have to manage the soreness.”
Baldelli spoke in spring training about depth being one of his club’s strongest attributes.
Now, it’s getting put to the test.
“We have a lot of guys that can really play and really pitch,” he said, “so looking forward to seeing what goes on next. We’re still in this run of playing a lot of games, so we’re going to lean on guys all over the place, and it starts tonight.”