Here’s the latest from around baseball as we head into the new week…
- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe will be out of action for at least a couple of days after suffering a right intercostal muscle strain during Sunday’s game. Plouffe hurt himself during a swing in the sixth inning but remained in the extra-inning contest until he appeared to aggravate the injury while running the bases at the end of the 10th. While Plouffe doesn’t think the injury is too serious, manager Paul Molitor told reporters (including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) that Plouffe will be held out of action and re-evaluated after a couple of games to see if he can avoid a DL stint. The third baseman entered Sunday’s game hitting .256/.275/.487 in 40 plate appearances.
- Cuban second baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez will participate in an open showcase for “likely hundreds of scouts” on May 2 and 3, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. Fernandez was declared a free agent earlier this month and isn’t subject to international bonus pool limits due to his age (28 next week) and eight seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. Badler’s piece also contains a new video of a Fernandez workout, and Badler observes that the second baseman has lost quite a bit of weight. This is perhaps an indication that Fernandez has been working out to get into game shape given that he has been sidelined for almost 18 months due to a suspension for a previous attempt to escape Cuba and then his successful departure from the country.
- The Twins’ 3-9 record and the slow starts from some young stars could be attributed to Torii Hunter’s retirement, an AL scout tells TodaysKnuckleball.com’s John Perrotto. “You see some of their kids like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano and they’re really talented but they’ve been trying to do way too much at the plate….That’s where they miss Torii,” the scout said. “He has that great personality where he keeps everything loose but he also had such a great track record that he could talk to those kids, calm them down, and they knew that he knew what he was talking about. Sometimes you need to hear things from a fellow teammate rather than a manager or coach. It just carries more clout.” While Hunter didn’t contribute much on the field in 2015 (0.5 fWAR), his clubhouse leadership was widely considered to be a factor in Minnesota’s surprising 83-79 record.
- Michael Cuddyer is enjoying his post-playing life, the retired outfielder tells Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, as he relishes spending time with his kids and getting to watch baseball simply as a fan for the first time in decades. Cuddyer rather surprisingly retired in December, receiving a buyout of around $2MM-$3MM on the $12.5MM he was owed in the final year of his contract with the Mets. “Usually when I get to the end of the season, I’m pretty beat up, but I still love the game, still love playing,” Cuddyer said. “This time, that was gone. And I didn’t want to hang on if I didn’t love it.”
- If the Red Sox rotation continues to struggle, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald suggests some fixes to get the staff on track later in the season. These include internal solutions (Eduardo Rodriguez making a strong return from the DL, or Henry Owens or Brian Johnson stepping up to deliver solid innings) or possible trade answers, though acquiring a top-tier arm could be difficult. Rival teams asked for the likes of Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts when the Sox asked about pitching over the winter, and Boston isn’t too keen on trading even less-established young talent after already unloading several prospects in the Craig Kimbrel deal.