I am in Misery: Injury Updates

April 29, 2010: Minnesota Twins

It might just be easier to list all of the healthy players on the active roster.

  • Alexi Casilla: Casilla hurt his ankle in a collision at the plate with Cleveland catcher Chris Jimenez in Saturday’s game. An MRI earlier this morning revealed no structural damage, though he does have a bone spur. At this point, Casilla isn’t expected to spend any time on the DL, and should be back in action for the series against the White Sox.

With Orlando Hudson coming off the DL, Casilla’s injury has come at a, well, not exactly a good time, more like a less-bad time. Trevor Plouffe can take over for Casilla in the meantime (mmm…Plouffy), though he doesn’t have much experience at second base. Casilla has actually played well since returning to the team last month, batting .309/.350/.491 and providing solid defense at second base. He’s obviously playing above his head, but even replacement-level production would be a huge improvement over his disappointing 2009.

  • Kevin Slowey: Slowey will miss his next start due to elbow soreness. According to Ron Gardenhire, the soreness isn’t serious, but the 26 year-old will be scratched from his next start against the White Sox as a precautionary measure.

“We don’t want to take a chance,” Gardenhire said. “He was supposed to have a bullpen [Sunday], but he felt sore. Pitchers are going to feel soreness this time of year. You just want to make sure you don’t force the issue and that they tell us, so we can adjust accordingly.

Gardy hinted that Glen Perkins might be called up from AAA to fill in for Slowey. Perkins was the number one pick in the 2004 draft, and his major-league track record is spotty at best. He’s a pretty average lefty: he doesn’t throw hard, his strikeout rate is a bit below average (4.63 K/9), and his control is about average (2.36 BB/9). He does induce a fair amount of ground balls, with a career 1.03 GB/FB%, though in previous years he has been slightly more of a fly-ball pitcher (0.89 and 0.96 GB/FB rates in 2007 and 2008, respectively). This will be his first appearance with the team since August 8th of 2009, when he landed on the DL with a shoulder injury (which later caused a rift between he and the front office over service time). While Nick Blackburn has been pitching well in AAA recently, giving up just two runs over 11.1 innings, it’s clear the Twins don’t think he’s quite ready to re-join the team yet.

Slowey isn’t the only one whose start has been pushed back, however, as both Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano opted for an extra day of rest. Liriano in particular, probably needs it. Between his stint in the Dominican Winter League and the regular season, he’s already thrown around 170 innings this season, and he still has eleven starts to go (and that isn’t counting any potential October starts). F-bomb hasn’t complained of any soreness or stiffness, and despite a rough start in Cleveland, hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, but the Twins should still be cautious with their ace. Another round of elbow surgery is the last thing Liriano needs.

  • Justin Morneau: As reported by Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune, Morneau is inching closer to a return. He has participated in four consecutive light workouts without suffering any concussion symptoms, and is expected to begin a short rehab stint sometime next week. He will join the team in Chicago for a workout, then watch the game from the bench, and if all goes well, will report to the minors for a rehab game. The Canadian Crusher has been on the DL for nearly a month after suffering a concussion while trying to break up a double play in a game against the Blue Jays, and is obviously anxious to return. [UPDATE:  Turns out Morneau will not be traveling with the team after all. Whether the Mountie will return at any point this season remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn't sound good.]

Every little setback in Morneau’s recovery has obviously made Twins fans very nervous, and rightfully so. Any injury involving the brain is potentially serious, and this isn’t the first time Morneau has suffered a concussion. He missed ten games in 2005 after getting hit in the face with a pitch from Ron Villone, and he’s suffered numerous mild concussions while playing hockey in his youth. The comparisons to Corey Koskie (who suffered a career-ending concussion) were probably inevitable, though the two cases could not have been handled more differently. Koskie accidentally hit his head on the turf while fielding a fly ball in 2006, causing both a concussion and what would later be diagnosed as whiplash. Neither Koskie himself nor the Brewers’ medical staff thought his injury was very serious at first, until his symptoms persisted and began affecting his daily life. Koskie didn’t see his first concussion specialist until almost a month after the initial injury, and didn’t find an effective treatment for his symptoms for nearly two years. The Twins have been extremely conservative with Morneau, sending him to concussion specialists within days after the injury and pushing back his rehab until he can participate in a full day of activities without suffering any symptoms. It’s too late for Corey Koskie, but it’s good to see MLB finally taking concussions seriously.

  • [Update: I forgot about Ben Revere] Ben Revere: speaking of head injuries, outfield prospect Ben Revere will likely miss the rest of the season after being hit in the face with a pitch and breaking the orbital bones in his eye socket. The New Britain Herald the describes the injury in what might be the best opening paragraph ever:

Now that Satan has dealt the New Britain Rock Cats yet another blow, perhaps he’ll pack up his pitchfork and leave.

As if the worst season in franchise history – one of the poorest in Eastern League annals – wasn’t enough, destiny has dealt top prospect Ben Revere what may be a season-ending blow through the left arm of Erie Seawolves pitcher Duane Below.

It doesn’t sound like he’s suffered any permanent brain damage or loss of eyesight, but still, yeesh. Get well soon, Ben.

Tags: Alexi Casilla Ben Revere Corey Koskie Glen Perkins Justin Morneau Kevin Slowey Minnesota Twins

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