MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins lost two more starting position players due to injury on Thursday, when they placed center fielder Byron Buxton (left shoulder inflammation) and catcher Mitch Garver (right intercostal strain) on the 10-day injured list, but they feel that neither injury will be a long-term issue.
The additional injuries will further challenge Minnesota's roster depth, considering that Josh Donaldson has already been on the 10-day injured list for most of August with a right calf strain and Luis Arraez missed his second straight game on Thursday with soreness in his left knee.
"I have no doubt we’ll be clicking on all cylinders at some point along the way here, but this is dealing with adversity in a challenging year, and we’re not alone in that. There are other clubs going through that too," president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. "We feel like we’re set up well with the group that we have -- front end of our lineup and otherwise got a lot of good regular players that are a big part of what we’re doing."
The Twins bolstered that group by recalling both right-handed reliever Zack Littell and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. from the alternate training site in St. Paul, Minn., and also selecting the contract of Ryan Jeffers, the top-ranked catching prospect in the organization and the club's No. 6 overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
Rookie left-hander Lewis Thorpe was optioned to the alternate training site after he threw 72 pitches in an extended relief appearance on Wednesday night.
So, yes, Buxton is back on the injured list after he'd shown encouraging signs of staying healthy and being productive through the start of the 2020 campaign. He'd been one of the club's better hitters through the Twins' recent offensive struggles and he had been hitting .221/.225/.456 with five homers in 21 games prior to the injury. Minnesota is looking to be particularly cautious with Buxton considering his recent left shoulder surgery and his injury history, leading to the shutdown.
The encouraging sign with the Twins' center fielder is that the surgically repaired labrum in his left shoulder remains in good shape, Falvey said, and the soreness that sidelined Buxton on Thursday is due more to muscle inflammation. Falvey indicated that soreness in the area is not necessarily unexpected following such a procedure, which Buxton underwent in September following a collision with an outfield wall last August.
Buxton said earlier in the season that he had to modify his routine at the ballpark, to some extent, due to lingering soreness in the shoulder, and according to Falvey, Buxton's slide into home plate as the game-winning run in the 12th inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Brewers likely aggravated the condition.
"We never, at any point throughout the course of that time -- and still to this day -- feel any differently about how he's recovered from the labrum [surgery]," Falvey said. "So, this is more muscular in nature, and because it's in the similar area, I get the connection associated with it -- but we don't think this is something that's going to track going forward. I feel really good about how he's returned so far."
Garver sustained his low-grade intercostal strain during a swinging strikeout in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 9-3 loss to the Brewers. He immediately clutched at his right side following the whiff and was slow to get up. Alex Avila replaced him for the remainder of the game.
Falvey described the injury as "very mild" and indicated that Garver may not spend too much more than the minimum 10 days on the injured list.
"He feels OK, but I think he would’ve been down for at least a few days while we kind of worked it through and get that calmed down," Falvey said. "You don’t want that to get worse. So, he’s going to shut it down for a period of time."
The injury is a setback in an already difficult 2020 season for Garver, the reigning Silver Slugger Award winner at his position. The Twins' Opening Day backstop is mired in an 8-for-52 (.154) slump with 24 strikeouts and only one homer to open the campaign.