MINNEAPOLIS – After sitting out his third game in a row, Twins outfielder Denard Span was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list following Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Mariners. He has been suffering from a strained sternoclavicular joint in his right shoulder, which an MRI revealed on Wednesday.
Span, who missed nine games between Aug. 13 and Aug. 22 with the same injury, returned to the Twins’ lineup last weekend, playing in three of the team’s four games in Texas and the first game of its series against Seattle in Minneapolis. The pain never abated in those four games, Span said, though he collected five hits in 19 at-bats.
“It was painful even when I came back,” Span said. “I fought through it. After playing the … second or third game in a row, the pain just continued to kind of get more, I guess.”
Span said that he felt that it was unfair to continue to scratch himself from games so close to first pitch, and he and general manager Terry Ryan agreed Thursday that the disabled list would be the best option. Instead of testing himself each day, Span will now have time to heal.
Span initially injured himself on Aug. 12 while sliding for a ball in the outfield against Tampa Bay, and his disabled list stint will be retroactive to Tuesday. That means that Span will be eligible to return on Sept. 12, a full month after the initial injury.
With the Twins’ current 53-78 record and the potential for Span’s injury to require more than just 15 days to heal, shutting him down for the season might be an option. However, neither Span nor the team was willing to offer much insight into what will happen over the course of the next two weeks, and like it’s been for the past few weeks, Span’s long-term status will continue to be under consideration.
“We will see then,” Span said. “Depending on how it feels, hopefully these next 10 days it’ll heal enough to where I can finish the season off and start that healing process again during the offseason.”
“I’m just going to listen to my body, and hopefully these 10 days and the treatment and the anti-inflammatories will help out. But I’m going to be smart as well when I come off the DL and do what I think is best.”
Span’s move to the disabled list comes just two days before the Twins can expand their roster to 40 players. With Chris Parmelee in the majors and other minor league prospects scheduled to join the Twins between Sept. 1-4, there will be plenty of players to fill Span’s role.
Span to the disabled list won’t be the Twins’ only prominent roster move of the next few days. With Scott Diamond serving his six-game suspension for allegedly throwing at Josh Hamilton in Texas, he’ll miss his scheduled Sunday start in Kansas City. Although manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t say who will take Diamond’s place in the rotation this weekend, he did say it would be a “new guy” (or even an “old new guy”) getting the start.
The news about Span’s injury was just the latest disappointment for the Twins on Thursday after a 43-minute sixth inning ended up destroying their chances to split the series with Seattle. The Mariners scored four of their five runs in the top of the sixth inning, destroying the Twins’ 2-1 lead in part through their own effort but also due to the home team’s mistakes.
With one Seattle run already in, Jesus Montero hit a sacrifice fly to left field, which Josh Willingham dropped. That led to two unearned runs that ultimately doomed the Twins.
“We had the one bad inning where (starting pitcher Brian Duensing) kind of ran out of gas, and then we dropped a fly ball out there,” Gardenhire said. “That was a big inning against us… but we got back into it. We had a chance there at the end to tie it up or win a ballgame, which was fun, but we couldn’t come up with one more big hit.”
But one bad inning is impossible to write off, especially when the Twins left two men on to end the game. Willingham’s eighth-inning home run helped, but it wasn’t enough and it certainly didn’t make the loss any easier for the left fielder, who’s growing more reticent with every loss, to justify.
“I don’t really care how we lose, just the fact that we’re not getting it done, I’m not getting Ws, is frustrating,” Willingham said.
Although the Twins could be heartened by the fact that they came within one run twice this series, it’s almost worse in light of their dominance on Wednesday. There’s evidence that the team can win, but it’s come too often in one-sided, close to pristine games. On Thursday, as it has often been, there were too many mistakes and not quite enough offense, and the Twins will head to Kansas City having lost their sixth series in a row.
“It’s frustrating, and it’s disappointing at the same time,” Duensing said. “I feel like we’ve got a good team. We’ve got a good offense and pitching and everything. We just can’t quite put it together, it seems like.”