MINNEAPOLIS -- When C.J. Cron came off the injured list at the beginning of the Twins’ current homestand, the first baseman expressed hope that his right thumb, which had been bothering him for a good portion of the year, had calmed down enough to resume playing.
“I’m just going to try to tape it up. I guess, try to pretend as if nothing’s wrong and try to just keep going,” Cron said at the time. “That’s all you can do. My job is to help this team win, and I feel good enough to be able to do that.”
A little less than a week later, Cron landed on the injured list again as his thumb continued to bother him.
Cron hit two doubles in his first game back but went 4 for 19 in his five games between the two IL stints. He had an injection on Sunday, July 21, he said.
“It just wasn’t feeling right when I came back,” he said. “It’s no surprise. Power and driving the ball are a big part of my game, and it’s hard to do with one hand. Hopefully, we can take care of this.”
Cron said he offered to play through pain. The Twins were not willing to take that risk. Cron, though he would like to be playing, said that would probably be for the better for him.
“We’re in this for the long haul. We’re not trying to just get him out there on the field in a really uncomfortable state,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I don’t think that accomplishes a lot where we’re at in the season right now.”
Twins revert to eight-man bullpen
With Cron going on the injured list, the Twins used the opportunity to revert to an eight-man bullpen. They had dipped down to seven when Cron came back from the IL last week.
Both Lewis Thorpe, who was with the team briefly last month, and Cody Stashak, who was added to the 40-man roster, were called up Monday. Zack Littell, who had pitched in three consecutive games, was optioned to Triple-A.
“It’s probably almost impossible to go an entire season, or a really long period of time, with seven relievers these days,” Baldelli said. “I think it’s very challenging, and if you’re going to go with seven relievers, which you can do, you have to realize that at some point you’re going to run into some sort of situation where you need to probably extend the bullpen a little bit, and then you’re going need some more length and maybe another person down there.”
Thorpe made a rain-shortened debut in Chicago against the White Sox in June, throwing five innings and giving up two runs in five innings. He was sent back to Triple-A after his start.
Stashak, a 13th-round pick in 2015, began the season at Double-A, where he posted a 4.76 earned-run average before being promoted to Rochester. While there, he posted a 1.61 ERA over 22 1/3 innings.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. We were on our way back from Atlanta and a flight got canceled,” Stashak said. “We were on our way to a hotel on a shuttle. There were about 15 of us on there. Thorpe got the call and he passed me the phone and everybody started going crazy.”
Baldelli said Byron Buxton (seven-day concussion IL) was getting close to a return, but he was not going to commit to anything until Buxton was 100 percent ready to go. Buxton hit the ground hard on July 13 in Cleveland diving to make a catch.
“I think a lot of or all of the concussion-related issues have resolved themselves,” Baldelli said. “Making sure that he is ready to go and confident and able to do all of the baseball activity is probably something we have to make sure of before we can activate him.”