MAY 30: Kepler has indeed been placed on the 10-day IL, with catcher Ben Rortvedt recalled from Triple-A to replace him on the active roster. Baldelli told reporters (including Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com) that Rob Refsnyder is set to get everyday run in center field with Buxton and Kepler on the shelf.
Baldelli also addressed Maeda’s setback this afternoon (via Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press). While the right-hander was initially placed on the IL due to a groin strain, he’s fully recovered from that injury. His current issue is unrelated “general arm soreness.” The timetable for his return is still uncertain, although Baldelli says Maeda could resume playing catch next week.
MAY 29: The Twins’ 6-5 victory over the Royals today may have come at a price, as Max Kepler left the game due to a left hamstring strain. Kepler came up limping while trying to beat out a grounder in the second inning, and was immediately replaced in the field for the top of the third.
Manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters (including The Athletic’s Dan Hayes) that Kepler would undergo an MRI and could potentially be heading to the injured list. At the very least, “I don’t think he’s going to be out there in the next few days,” Baldelli said.
This is the second time in under two weeks that a hamstring problem has forced Kepler out of a game, as he made an early exit back on May 16. Since that injury, Kepler has sat out four games and also been limited to DH duty in three others in an attempt to play through the issue. Now, however, Kepler looks to be joining Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, and utilityman Luis Arraez on the 10-day IL as Minnesota will be further short-handed in the outfield.
As per the wRC+ metric, Kepler has delivered exactly average (100) offensive production this season, hitting .212/.303/.424 over 152 plate appearances. Beyond the lingering hamstring injury, Kepler also missed 10 days recovering from a case of COVID-19.
Baldelli also has less-than-positive updates about two other injured Twins in Arraez and Kenta Maeda. Arraez hit the injured list (in retroactive placement fashion) on May 24 due to a right shoulder strain, and that strain now looks like a subluxation that will keep Arraez out of action for multiple weeks.
A groin strain sent Maeda to the IL on May 23, and Baldelli said that Maeda suffered a setback during a bullpen session on Friday. The right-hander was initially expected to miss between 10-14 days, but now it isn’t known when Maeda might be back in the Minnesota rotation. Maeda has a 5.27 ERA/4.07 SIERA through nine starts and 42 2/3 innings for the Twins this season.