"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Friday, July 01, 2005

Infield: Life on the DL

Twins' Williams Devastated by Injury:
Minnesota's Glenn Williams learned the hard way this week that baseball can be as cruel as it is rewarding. After toiling in the minor leagues for more than a decade, the Australian-born infielder's major league dream was fulfilled when the Twins bought his contract from Triple-A Rochester on June 7 to provide some depth for an injury-depleted infield.

Williams did more than just fill in. He batted .425, with at least one hit in every game he appeared in, showing a patient approach at the plate and a steady glove at third base. Williams had actually taken over as the regular at that position, in place of Michael Cuddyer, and started his sixth straight game when disaster struck.

Diving back into first base on a pickoff attempt Tuesday night, Williams' hand hit the dirt awkwardly - forcing his right shoulder, a joint he had surgery on in 1999, to pop out.

The diagnosis was a dislocation. The recovery timetable is at least six weeks, if not more.

His chance of making an impression in spring training was mostly wiped out by a pulled groin, and he was sent to the Twins' Triple-A team in Rochester, N.Y. - beginning his 12th minor league season.

Then came health problems with the big club, though, and Williams was recommended as being the most ready for the majors.

"We trust the staff," Gardenhire said. "He proved them right."

Unfortunately for Williams, he'll have to wait a while to keep proving his worth. Seen crying in the training room the night of his injury, Williams - who turns 28 on July 18 - was devastated by his setback.

My first reaction to hearing about Williams' injury was: "Oh, that poor guy. How horrible."

My second, hard on its heels, was: "%@$#! We finally get a third baseman who might actually turn out to be competent, and now this!"

Williams' injury, as sad and devastating as it is to him, the team and those of us fans who can still bear to confront infield plays with our eyes open, is only the latest in a string of infield disabilities and more minor injuries.

  • April 12th: Justin Morneau to 15-day disabled list with a concussion after being hit by a pitch.

  • May 31st: Luis Rivas to 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique of mysterious origin.

  • June 2nd: Nick Punto to 15-day disabled list with a pulled hamstring on a stolen base attempt.

  • June 17th: Brent Abernathy to 15-day disabled list with strained shoulder after colliding with a wall during a fielding play in foul territory.

  • And now Williams' dislocated shoulder.


  • In between these DL-worthy injuries we've seen many a game missed due to pulled groin muscles, hit-by-pitches, unidentified illnesses, and (most recently) dizzy spells. In Wednesday's game, Michael Ryan played third base for several innings. Michael Ryan, the outfielder. The spare backup outfielder. And yet, "shortstop of the future" Jason Bartlett continues to languish in AAA after being royally hosed by the organization the first time he hit a slump. But I won't go farther into that particular rant today.

    Suffice it to say, the last thing a struggling team needs is an infield held together with duct tape and prayer. But at least the pitching staff is healthy.

    Oh.

    Crap.

    I shouldn't have said that.

    3 rejoinders:

    Batgirl sounded off...

    TBL,

    BG was keeping BatDad company while he underwent a day procedure at the hospital on Wednesday and was not able to listen to the game at all, so she is just learning of our "new" 3rd baseman. How did he do? Did he go in after Cuddles was hurt?

    Curiously,
    BG

    Third Base Line sounded off...

    It was a little more complicated than that. :) What happened was Cuddyer got hit by the pitch, and took his base but after the next batter I guess his hand started feeling really bad, so Castro (who had been having a day off) came in to run for him.
    So after the half-inning was over, they put Castro at short, moved Rivas from short to second and Rodriguez from second to third. Ryan was still in right.
    And then in the next inning, they decided to pinch hit Hunter for Castro.
    So after *that* half-inning, Rodriguez moved back to second, Rivas back to short, Hunter to center, Ford from center to right and Ryan from right to third.
    Clear as mud?

    Batgirl sounded off...

    Precisely.