Willingham continues to play despite claim
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was business as usual for Josh Willingham on Thursday, even though he was claimed on waivers by the Orioles on Wednesday, as he was in the lineup, batting fourth and starting in left field against the Royals. He went 0-for-2 with a walk in the 3-1 loss to the Royals.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire declined to comment on the situation, given the confidentiality of the waiver process, as Willingham is still on the roster and he wanted to put his best team on the field.
Willingham was placed on waivers Monday, and the Twins have until noon ET on Friday to work out a deal with the Orioles or pull him back off waivers.
The Twins could also let the O's take Willingham and the rest of his contract, but that scenario is not likely, as the two clubs are trying to work out a deal, according to a source. The 34-year-old is due roughly $1.25 million the rest of this year and $7 million next year.
Willingham has had trouble following up his impressive 2012 campaign, when he hit 35 homers en route to winning the Silver Slugger Award. He's dealt with a knee injury this season -- and ultimately underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early July -- and is hitting just .212/.343/.386 with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 89 games.
"Last year he had a tremendous year," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "This year, it's been inconsistent. Some of it is injury-wise. Some of it, and I want to preface this to get it right, it seems like he's been nicked up here and there. The knee set him back and he's been trying to catch up. So he hasn't had as good a year but that doesn't diminish this guy is a valuable piece to any lineup."
One wrench in a potential Willingham trade is that Orioles also claimed Mariners first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse on waivers on Thursday, according to a CBSSports.com report. Like Willingham, Morse is a power-hitting right-handed hitter, so the Orioles could ultimate acquire Morse instead.