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The Twins will — and have been — slowing down C.J. Cron and pulling back on his number of at-bats as they try to let his sore thumb heal.
Cron’s thumb has been bothering him for months, despite two stints on the injured list.
“C.J.’s been dealing with this for a very long time,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I’d like to say it’s getting better. It’s probably not getting better, and he kind of pretends like he’s doing OK and he mans up and he goes and plays and he continues to swing. I think we’re at a point where we might slow him down a bit.”
Cron first landed on the injured list on July 6 and missed just 10 days, but when he came back, he didn’t sound confident that he was fully healed. He landed on the IL again less than 10 days later and received a cortisone shot for the pain.
Although he came off the IL on Aug. 3 and has been playing since then, the results haven’t been as good as early in the season. Cron slashed .266/.326/.495 with 17 home runs and 54 runs batted in in the 78 games before his first stint on the IL. From Aug. 3 on, he is slashing .230/.293/.410 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.
Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey described the injury as a bone bruise and said the only recourse was rest and time.
“No one can play with what he’s playing with right now and swing the bat with the intensity that you need to swing the bat with to play at this level,” Baldelli said. “I think we’re still going to see him out there at times, but I think pulling him back a little bit I think makes sense.”
The Twins have been pulling back on his starts already, though he has entered a couple of games in the late innings recently. Cron was not in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the White Sox.
“There’s not really a playbook for this one. It’s kind of a unique situation. He’s going to find himself into games. He’s going to go out there. We could turn to him potentially for an at-bat,” Baldelli said. “We could turn to him for some defensive play. We could do some different things with him. As far as regular at-bats in the starting lineup, they might be fewer.”
The Twins did get good news on the injury front, as Marwin Gonzalez returned to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 27 in Chicago, when he injured his oblique/abdomen.
“It was frustrating to be out for this long,” Gonzalez said. “I wanted to be back a little sooner than this, but everything is done for my own good. I let it heal and, obviously, I’m going to be kind of scared the first couple games, but I feel good.”
Gonzalez started at first base Monday night as Cron rested. He will also be called upon in the outfield as Max Kepler deals with a lingering injury. Gonzalez’s return is especially important to the Twins as Ehire Adrianza, another option to play multiple positions, is dealing with an oblique strain.
“When you add him back into the fold, you’re not adding a player,” Baldelli said. “You’re not adding a first baseman. You’re adding a first baseman and a second baseman and a third baseman and an outfielder and a guy, if he’s not starting, you can hit him for a number of different people in a number of different spots. He just gives you a ton to work with, and it’s very helpful.”
Adrianza said he had started lifting weights and doing some “upper body stuff and some core” for the first time since suffering the strain on Thursday and felt good. He remains optimistic that he could return before the season ends.
Kepler (shoulder) was again out of the lineup after sitting Sunday. He did play in Saturday’s doubleheader. “We’re going to get him looked at again, and it’s something that we want to find a way to wipe out,” Baldelli said.
The Tigers claimed pitcher Marcos Diplan after the Twins had designated him for assignment over the weekend. Diplan, who was at Double-A this season, was acquired for cash by the Twins on July 31.