Monday, May 31, 2010

What is Going on with the DL?

So, why was Cuddy at second base?

The Twins have been slow to place banged up players on the 15-day disabled list (DL) this year, and last night that resulted in Michael Cuddyer playing second base. Cuddyer hasn't played second base consistently since 2005 when he played 11 games there. He started last night because the Twins have two injured second basemen on the roster and neither of them were on the DL.

Starting second baseman Orlando Hudson was injured Sunday night, and the Twins are still trying to evaluate if there is something wrong with his wrist. After negative x-rays, and a CT scan that turned up nothing, they say he should be back in a couple of days. We'll see.

But backup Alexi Casilla underwent an MRI on his elbow back on 5/21 or 5/22. It found a bone spur and loose bodies, but nothing that prevented him from filling in for Hudson back on 5/22. He also played on 5/27, going one for four. However, last night he was only able to pinch run, which is why Cuddyer ended up starting at second base. Now he's going to be placed on the DL, ten days after his MRI?

This isn't the first time the Twins have kept a guy on the roster while he treating an injury. It's happened over and over. Instead of calling a healthy backup from Rochester, the Twins have played short-handed this year, and the player coming back has struggled. Let's review...

Nick Punto
Situation: Most recently, Punto was basically out of games from 5/22 to 5/28 with an injured finger. I say "basically" because he was used as a pinch runner a couple of times during that stretch. When he returned, he could only bat left-handed, which limited the spots in which he could be used.

Results: In the 9 days in which Punto would have been on the 15-day DL, he has garnered two hits.

JJ Hardy
Situation: Hardy jameed his wrist sliding into third base on 5/4. Initially, we were told he would miss a day or two. A week later he ended up seeing a specialist and was finally put on the DL on 5/11.

Results: The Twins played short-handed for a week - and still ended up putting Hardy on the DL. He didn't return until 5/25 and admitted this weekend that his wrest still isn't 100%. He is 4-22 since his return, with one double.

Joe Mauer
Situation: Mauer hurt his heel in a game 4/30. He was out until 5/8, when he pinch hit. He started as a designated hitter on 5/9. And he finally started again at catcher on 5/11, eleven days after the injury. During that time the Twins used multiple roster moves to cover for not placing him on the DL.

Results: Mauer went 8 for 19 in the games in which he would have been on the DL. What can you say - it's Mauer. He hits.

Nick Punto (again)
Situation: On 4/16 Punto was held out of a game because he had a sore groin. Later the problem was diagnosed as a hip flexor injury, and he was finally added to the DL on 4/23, a week later.

Results: For a week, the Twins played without their starting third baseman and without making a roster move. Punto returned 4/30.

Pat Neshek
Situation: On 4/15 it was reported that Neshek had a sore flexor tendon in his finger. He was held out of games until 4/24. A week later the Twins decided to send him to AAA, at which point he asked to be put on the DL, at which point the finger-pointing started. Eventually he was given an MRI and a new diagnosis was given: he had a problem with his palm pulley tendon.

Result: In the 15 days he would have been on the DL, the Twins played short-handed for nine days, and then Neshek gave up two runs on eighteen pitches. Plus, he was eventually put on the DL, plus it looks like the missed diagnosis resulted in treatment that aggravated the actual injury.

Conclusion
What the hell is going on out there? For four guys (Neshek, Punto's hip, Hardy and Casilla), it looks like the Twins just had no idea how serious (or what) the injury was. In Mauer's case, the felt like they would rather play short-handed than not have him for a few days (and Mauer made that look almost prudent). And with Punto's finger, he was seemingly rushed back.

I had thought that the Twins were trying to be careful about roster moves. That doesn't seem to the be case. It looks more and more like the problem is that players are either trying to downplay injuries or the medical staff is having trouble evaluating them. I can only think of a couple of games that it has impacted, but it must be driving manager Ron Gardenhire crazy. This is an area that needs some extra attention, and needs it fast.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but if putting a player on the DL just means the Twins are going to call up Matt Tolbert, what does it matter?

John said...

That might be the case when a reserve like Casilla is DLed, buy these guys were starters. I'm hopeful that if it was Hudson going to the DL, Valencia or Plouffe would be recalled.

SoCalTwinsfan said...

If Casilla was unavailable to even play defense, and he most likely was, then having Cuddyer was a great move because it allowed the Twins to have the best use of their roster as it was. If Harris has to start, then Thome or Delmon are on the bench. If it's Thome, he is completely unavailable except to pinch hit for the DH or Mauer because Casilla can't come in and play defense. If it's Delmon, then you have to be willing to put Cuddyer in the infield late in a tight game when Delmon pinch hits for an infielder. I think Cuddyer to start at second and get the Twins' best offense out there was the best solution for one game. Gardy was able to pinch run for Thome with Casilla and use Harris as a pinch runner for Kubel and defensive replacement to get the best defense on the field when protecting a late lead.

John said...

SCT,

I agree. I loved the move of starting Cuddy. I hope we see it again, to be honest.

Anonymous said...

The situation is exacerbated because Thome basically takes up two bench spots. Suggested topic for tomorrow: "What is going on with Thome?"

John H said...

I suspect it is because there isn't anybody in AAA that they want to bring up for 15 days. Sometimes you are better off playing short handed for a week or so than loosing a player for 15 days.

Anonymous said...

The twins have a tattered recent past with all sorts of medical issues. Not only the ones mentioned in this piece but bonser, mauer with his back, liriano and tommy john.

jack torse

Anonymous said...

Tommy John never played for the Twins...

walter hanson said...

John:

I realized that you were frustrated about the number of players, but didn't you forget Jose M. Didn't he have an injury issue that you didn't deal with? With the hitters I can understand some caution, but with the pitchers where you short the staff one arm that could have an impact for many days (a pitcher has to throw an extra inning and isn't available the next day causing another pitcher to have to throw an extra inning).

I think the hitter issues are the key. It's kind of hard to call up a player that you want to have four or five at bats per day in the minors who might not have one for a couple of days at the majors.

Not to mention I think the minor league teams have some injury issues and while the major league team is suppose to be the only thing that Smith cares about he doesn't want to leave the minor league teams in an nonfunctional state.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

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