Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Morneau and the roster (updated)

Justin Morneau breaks his bat in his first at-bat Monday.
It is a rule of life in general and the internet in particular: In the absence of hard information, speculation abounds.

We have little reliable information about the wrist injury that is sending Justin Morneau back to Minnesota for an exam. But sidelining him has reduced the Twins position player roster to dangerous levels.

They are carrying 13 pitchers, an alignment that was intended to end with last week's off day but continues because the starting rotation has been so putrid. Thirteen pitchers leaves room for 12 position players. Now one of those 12, Morneau, isn't even with the team, so it's 11. Joe Mauer reportedly could not run Monday night, so that tightens things further. That's not much wriggle room for the manager.

Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that the Twins make a quick decision to put Morneau on the disabled list. What would the likely move be?

Possibility One: The return of Drew Butera, which would make it easier for Ron Gardenhire (or Scott Ulger, who will run the team this weekend while Gardenhire attends his daughter's college graduation) to use either Mauer or Ryan Doumit as the designated hitter.

Possibility Two: The return of Luke Hughes, who washed out fast with Oakland and is currently in the limbo of waivers. Hughes is right-handed, so he could platoon at first base with Chris Parmelee. But the Twins may not want to go there again. (Another potential advantage, that Hughes was already on the West Coast, isn't there — the A's were in Baltimore during the weekend and are still out East, so Hughes is no closer to the Twins than the minor leaguers are.)

Possibility Three: Some minor league DH/1B, such as Matt Carson or Aaron Bates. It seems unlikely.

The Butera move is the most likely, with Parmelee getting more regular time at first base, Mauer and Doumit splitting catcher and DH starts, and Trevor Plouffe and Clint Thomas sharing right field.

But that's just speculation.

Addendum: Butera is on his way to Orange County, Calif., and is to be activated in time for tonight's game. The corresponding roster move has yet to be made; Morneau may go on the DL, or one of those 13 pitchers is sent down or waived. It all depends on what the wrist examiner concludes.

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