Notes: Boone could be odd man out

Notes: Boone could be odd man out

BOSTON -- Second baseman Bret Boone did not play in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox and knew there was a good chance he might have already played his last game in a Twins uniform.

Struggling all season, Boone has not found his swing since coming to Minnesota in a July 11 trade from the Mariners. The 36-year-old is batting .170 in 14 games and despite being a four-time American League Gold Glove winner, he hasn't performed well defensively.

When he was acquired for a Minor League player to be named, the club hoped Boone might boost its struggling offense.

"I played [lousy]," Boone said. "I haven't played anywhere close to how I've played in the past."

The Twins have contemplated calling up shortstop Jason Bartlett from Triple-A Rochester. If that decision is made, Boone could be the odd man out in a roster move and given his release.

"If I had to face something like that, my next step would be to go home with my family and collect my thoughts," said Boone, who is batting .221 in 88 games overall this season. "It's strictly speculation."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he planned to meet with general manager Terry Ryan on Monday at the Metrodome and go over their options.

Hunter hurting: Injured center fielder Torii Hunter returned to the ballpark Sunday, but even doing just that was no easy feat.

Hunter hobbled around on crutches with his strained, and possibly torn, tendon in his left ankle. He was no better off than he was Friday, the night his leg was injured while trying to catch David Ortiz's first-inning drive at the center field fence.

"It's worse," Hunter said. "If I don't have it in this [protective] boot, it hangs down and it's painful."

Hunter spent all of Saturday confined to his hotel room with ice on his ankle, and unable to do anything. Despite taking medication, he said the pain gave him a sleepless night.

"I couldn't walk on it yesterday," Hunter said. "Today, I couldn't walk on it but I have to. It's the last day [in town]. I had to come to the stadium."

An MRI exam to confirm whether there's torn tendon is scheduled for Monday in Minneapolis. If it's a strain or a small tear, Hunter could return in a few weeks. But if the tear is significant, season-ending surgery would be a strong possibility.

First things, first: Everyone has been aware of starting pitcher Brad Radke's issues with allowing first-inning runs this season. But Radke has pitched scoreless first innings in his last five starts, including Sunday.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Rochester left-hander and upper echelon pitching prospect Francisco Liriano was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week. The 21-year-old Liriano went 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA with one run, six hits, six walks and fanned 15 batters.

Rochester catcher Rob Bowen connected for a pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth inning for an 11-8 victory at Scranton-Wilkes Barre on Saturday.

Coming up: The Twins finally return home and start a seven-game homestand. First up are four games with the Athletics, starting Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Johan Santana (10-5, 3.70 ERA) will pitch against right-hander Joe Blanton (5-9, 4.47 ERA).

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.