Twins lose pair of outfielders to injury

Hunter leaves game with foot pain

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was a little concerned prior to his club's game Saturday night, as he had only three players available off the bench.

But pregame availability proved to be just the beginning of Gardenhire's problems.

The Twins lost two more players during the contest, at least one for a considerable time, as both Torii Hunter and Shannon Stewart both aggravated foot problems and had to leave the game early. Stewart was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game.

"It got a little hairy there," Gardenhire said of the situation. "Torii goes down and Stew goes down and you're starting to shake your head a bit. We already knew we were thin going into it."

Stewart, the club's designated hitter, left the game following his at-bat in the fifth inning as he reinjured the plantar fascia in his left foot, an injury that had already caused him to miss 33 games this season. The Twins are expected to announce the recall Rondell White from Triple-A Rochester to take Stewart's place on the roster in time for Sunday's finale against the Indians.

Stewart's injury came after Hunter had left the game following the second inning with pain in his left foot. Hunter came into the dugout and told Gardenhire that he couldn't run due to the tremendous amount of pain he was experiencing.

"He was pretty much close to having tears come out of his eyes," Gardenhire said of Hunter. "He just couldn't run."

The center fielder was sent to Abbott Northwestern Hospital, where X-rays of the foot proved to be inconclusive. Twins physician Dan Buss said Hunter will undergo an MRI on Sunday morning to try and further determine what is wrong with the foot.

Hunter broke his left ankle last season, forcing him to miss the final two months of the campaign. Hunter underwent surgery on the ankle, and has had some lingering soreness in the foot at times this year. But Hunter's current pain seems to be more toward his toes than toward the ankle. Despite dealing with some pain this year, Hunter has played in 88 of the club's 89 games while hitting .269 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs.

These two injuries come just two days after the Twins had to place reserve outfielder Lew Ford on the DL with a strained right oblique muscle. With Jason Kubel not really an option in left field due to lingering soreness in both knees, the Twins' outfield choices are very limited. Gardenhire had to shift Nick Punto from third to center to take over for Hunter in Saturday's game.

Even with White's expected arrival Sunday, the Twins will have just two bench players available for the series finale against the Indians. Infielder Terry Tiffee was absent for Saturday's game and will be gone from the club until Monday. He is in Little Rock, Ark., to be with his wife, Kelli, as she gives birth to twin boys.

Gardenhire could only joke about as to who the club could possibly call upon if there is a need off the bench or in the outfield.

"Maybe we can go to the [St. Paul] Saints," Gardenhire said with a laugh about the local Independent League team. "With our luck, though, they'd be out of town, too."

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