In what was otherwise an absolutely outrageous victory for the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, there was cause for concern that the injury bug might have finally bitten so hard it drew some blood.
Max Kepler began his night against the Miami Marlins by ending his slump at the plate by launching his first hit of the season over the outfield wall. Up until the point, the Twins leadoff man was 0-for-14, but snapped out of that streak with a true bang.
It was one of four home runs the Twins would hit against the Marlins, but Kepler didn't stick around long enough to see them all. After hustling out an infield single in the fourth inning, Kepler came up wincing and grabbing at his right knee.
He was able to walk off the field under his own power, and it even looked like he might have been able to stay in the game, but Rocco Badelli wisely chose to take him out. At that point the Twins had amassed a 6-0 lead on Miami that grew by two runs before Kepler was even in the clubhouse. Taking him out was cause for concern, but the context gave hope that things weren't as bad as they seemed.
For what it's worth, Kyle Farmer came in and helped fill in for Kepler, and the Twins ended up bludgeoning the Marlins in an 11-1 victory -- the fourth straight win to being the year. As great as that feeling was, most fans were wondering what the status of Kepler was moving forward and if this was the end of the good times rolling.
Latest Max Kepler injury update for Twins vs. Marlins (April 4, 2023)
Rocco Baldelli spoke to the media after Monday night's win over the Marlins and gave an encouraging update on Kepler's status for tonight.
"The plan for [Tuesday] is to see how he's feeling, see how he's moving around," Baldelli said. I wouldn't see him likely being in the lineup tomorrow but we'll see if he's going to be available for anything for us."
It's a huge sigh of relief that Kepler's injury wasn't more serious, but it's likley wise of the team to hold him out for the time being. Not only is he due for a day off -- Kepler has played in every game so far this season -- but the Twins were able to replace him without missing a beat on Monday.
Kepler's long-term health is far more important than what he can do for the Twins on a Wednesday in April, regardless of how cool it would be to see the winning streak continue.
For what it's worth, it doesn't sound like anyone in the Twins clubhouse is too concerned that the injury will have a huge impact moving forward.
"I don't consider this a long-term issue, I don't think our training staff does at all, and I don't think [Kepler] does," Baldelli said after the game.
Minnesota is in Miami for two more games, neither of which Kepler needs to play. The Twins announced that Thursday home opener had been postponed until Friday due to inclimate weather, which gives Kepler a potential extra day to rest his knee before returning to action,