7/4: Plouffe, Escobar, Buxton Banged Up; Vargas Recalled

Happy 4th of July from Target Field!

It wasn’t quite as crazy as yesterday, when a lineup wasn’t posted until after Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor’s media availability due to Eduardo Escobar’s day-to-day status, Eddie Rosario being called up and activated, Kevin Jepsen being designated for assignment and Trevor May being called up but not activated.

All that plus Trevor Plouffe being scratched from the lineup right before the game started.

“Yesterday, trying to settle in on what to do, obviously we talked about various scenarios about how things might unfold,” said Molitor.

“Given Esco’s situation, potential DL, and May not quite ready because of coming off two days appearances, then Trevor coming down before the game, which put Joe in a tough spot. I don’t know if it was our hardest day, but there was definitely things that needed to be addressed and decisions that had to be made.”

Today it was revealed that Trevor Plouffe had a fractured left rib and would be headed to the disabled list. He suffered the injury in the eighth inning of a game on June 29 at Chicago.

“I knew he went yesterday to get an MRI, after the game we didn’t have any returns on information,” said Molitor, who guesses that Plouffe will be out three or four weeks.

“They had to track down our MRI expert, I guess, last night. He was on vacation or something. But somehow they were able to get the pictures out there and we got a call last night around 8:30, 9 o’clock, that it was confirmed there was a fracture in there.”

“I wish I could keep hitting with broken ribs, but unfortunately for me it’s getting worse and worse,” said Plouffe. “So you know, it is what it is. It’s something you can’t avoid in this game. Hit by a pitch, they happen all the time, and this one happened to square me up to the point where it fractured a rib.”

In addition to Plouffe’s injury, Byron Buxton and Eduardo Escobar are out of today’s lineup with nagging ailments.

Therefore 25 year old Kennys Vargas, who owns a .259/.299/.408 line with 14 homers over the past two years and was hitting .235/.353/.435 in Triple-A Rochester, gets the call and will hit fifth today.

“In talking with Terry, here in the short term, Esco, not sure when he’s going to be available,” said Molitor.

“We have some other guys who are playing banged up. I feel we’re one play away from having a pitcher spike up. We’re thin. From here to the break, at least, I thought another position player was something we needed to do.”

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It’s Ricky Nolasco (3-6, 5.31 ERA) vs. righty Kendall Graveman (3-6, 4.84 ERA) as the Twins take on the Oakland Athletics.

May remains inactive, and there is some logic in asking why the Twins didn’t just activate him when Plouffe went on the disabled list. Molitor wanted some depth in the field, however, and Vargas was doing well in Triple-A.

“I think the protection is pretty good now, but just last night, even with Byron … we just got guys that I know are playing hurt a little bit right now. And we were thin,” said Molitor.

“Esco feels a little bit better today than he did yesterday, but I still think that Thursday’s probably the earliest he’d be available to play in a game.

“Other than your backup catcher, without Kenny we’d be kind of tempting fate there in a negative way.”

Still, May should be ready to go tomorrow.

“I would imagine that is probably what we’re tentatively trying to do, figure out what we need to do to get him activated. And I would think that would probably be the case,” said Molitor.

“I’m not gonna say slam dunk, because things could change from now until the end of the game. But we’re just gonna have to figure out what we wanna do to make that happen.”

Fortunately for the Twins, the All-Star Break is coming up and they will have a few days to convalesce and gear up for the second half.

“I’ve already begun some things about rotation coming out of the break, and given it some thought as to whether I want to stay at seven, since we’ll be fairly rested coming out of the break and keep those extra position players,” said Molitor.

“You kind of think ahead that way, but you know that between now and six days from now, it might change your opinion on some of those things. But yeah, you have to try to think ahead about those things.”

More on Plouffe

Plouffe fractured his left rib in the eighth inning of a game in Chicago on June 29. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to July 2, and last played on July 1, when he hit a home run in a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

“Like I said, it was tolerable, where I could play and I wanted to play. And then yesterday it just became a pain that I couldn’t even really swing at all, to be honest with you. I went down to do my routine pregame, and it just wasn’t going to happen,” said Plouffe.

“They said four weeks probably before I can swing. That’s what they said. I feel like I could probably beat that. I typically come back quicker than they predict, so we’ll see.”

Plouffe also has a groin injury. He is hitting .252/.283/.399 with seven home runs on the season.

Along with his lagging numbers, Plouffe’s injury has likely decreased his trade value at a time when Sano has played well at third base and is hitting well.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that now,” said Plouffe. “I guess I never knew. So I’m here with you guys.”

Nunez the consensus All-Star

Joe Mauer started the season out well, but is in a hitting skid and has seen his line drop to .258/.362/.369 while Kurt Suzuki (.278/.316/.727) and Brian Dozier (.262/.345/.476) began the year around the Mendoza line and have elevated their games recently.

Still, it has been Eduardo Nunez, a utility player turned shortstop, who has emerged as the leading candidate to make the All-Star team — as a write-in.

He is hitting .319/.345/.486 and his versatility will be an asset to AL manager Ned Yost.

“Of all our players, position and pitchers, he’s had the best first half,” said Molitor, simply.

“Kurt’s made a nice push. Dozier made a nice push. Fernando [Abad]’s had a nice half,” he added.

“But yeah, I think that his numbers support it. Versatile, productive. He’s been … for them, I would imagine how it all fits. It’s a bigger roster than it used to be, all clubs have to be represented.

“I would think his versatility would have to be appealing in a game like that.”

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