By Joe Christensen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –
SEATTLE — The Minnesota Twins continue to play shorthanded with Denard Span nursing a sore neck, and there’s no end in sight.
Span hasn’t played since Aug. 12, when he rolled onto his right shoulder trying to make a catch against Tampa Bay, injuring his clavicle and neck muscles. The Twins have been saying he’s day-to-day ever since, but asked Sunday if he is been able to take batting practice, Span said, “No chance.”
Span has been swinging in the batting cage but said the pain bothers him when he reaches to cover the outside half of the plate.
Still, the Twins are determined to keep Span, 28, off the disabled list. When Ben Revere returned from his right ankle injury Sunday, it only strengthened the team’s resolve.
Assistant General Manager Rob Antony noted that even with Span injured, the Twins have five other players who play outfield: Revere, Josh Willingham, Darin Mastroianni, Ryan Doumit and Matt Carson.
“It leaves (manager Ron Gardenhire) one guy thin on the bench,” Antony said. “But Span could pinch-run. He could go in there if we got into a bind. But I don’t see the scenario where we’ll be in a bind. Maybe the last two days when Revere was out, but we’ve gotten past that.”
If Span were placed on the 15-day DL retroactively, he would be eligible to return Aug. 28. Meanwhile, at Class AAA Rochester, the Twins have Chris Parmelee who is batting .352 with 16 home runs in 54 games.
“The thing you don’t want to do is to throw (Span) on the DL and have him out for a guaranteed two weeks, if he can be ready in a day or two,” Antony said.
Deduno’s tight-rope walk
Even by Samuel Deduno’s standards, Sunday was a crazy game. He issued a season-high six walks and hit a batter, but still held Seattle to two runs over six innings.
“I have to be better,” Deduno said after his first career loss. “That’s too many (walks).”
Added Gardenhire: “It’s not a good formula. It makes for long innings and standing around defensively. That can take your offense off the field too and get you out of whack. But to his credit, he bent a little bit but didn’t break.”
Deduno has walked 36 batters and hit two more in 46 innings over eight starts, yet he is 4-1 with a 3.33 ERA.
Trevor Plouffe is 1-for-22 since returning from the DL and on Saturday, he looked out of sorts on two plays at third base.
“He just didn’t move for the ball,” Gardenhire said. “… He’s got to get lower. He’s starting to stand up straight again, and that’s probably — you’re scuffling a little bit at the plate, you’re carrying it out there, you’re thinking about that. I’ll talk to him — again.
“It’s the same thing Danny Valencia was doing, standing straight up. Ground balls are normally on the ground, and if you’re standing straight up, that’s a long ways to get to them, especially on the hot corner.”
—Nick Blackburn is scheduled to start Wednesday at Oakland, but the Twins have been discussing alternatives such as sending him to Class AAA Rochester, moving him to the bullpen or having him skip a start. “We had some conversations (Sunday) morning,” Antony said. “We’ll talk to (GM Terry Ryan) tomorrow and have some more conversations and figure out what we’re going to do and talk to Blackie and then talk to (the media).”
—Pitching coach Rick Anderson returned after missing the first two games of the series to attend to a personal matter.