Notes: Hunter in a hurry to recover

Notes: Hunter in a hurry to recover

MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter seems to defy expectations with his play, so it's no surprise that he expects to do the same with his most recent injury, a stress fracture in his left foot.

Stress fractures can take anywhere from four to six weeks to fully heal, but Hunter's prediction is that he will be able to return to the Twins when he is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 31.

"I'm convinced," Hunter said. "I've been playing for three months on this thing, so give me 15 days, I'm straight."

After talking with the doctors, both Hunter and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire were told that the injury is in the midst of healing, as indicated by the color of the bone area in the MRI. It's not an exact science, though, as the doctors have only one MRI of the foot and aren't able to compare it with how the area looked before the injury.

"That is hopeful, as you just never know here," Gardenhire said of the timetable. "We'll see after a few weeks where we're really at, and then you'll be able to get a better feeling how he moves around out there. Give him a few days off, a week, and then he'll get back to work."

Exactly how the stress fracture occurred is unknown, but Hunter said he's been dealing with the pain in his foot for the past three months. The pain really set in during a game against the Red Sox at home on June 15. Trying to run after a David Ortiz hit to the gap in center, Hunter caught his spike in a seam of the turf and it aggravated the injury. Over the past two weeks, the pain had slowly grown worse until Saturday, when it hit its peak.

"Saturday, I woke up and I couldn't move," Hunter said. "I thought I could loosen it up and went out there to play, but I couldn't run after balls or do anything. I felt like I was hurting the team, so I came out."

Having to sit out with an injury in back-to-back seasons is frustrating for Hunter, but it's a much different feeling this time than his season-ending broken ankle last July. Now he has a chance to come back and help the club in its pennant chase.

Much of Hunter's eagerness to come back soon is the knowledge of just how close his team has come to making a run for the playoffs. Sitting 6 1/2 games back of the White Sox in the American League Wild Card race, there is feeling that another strong run could take place.

"If these guys play well, like against Chicago and beat those guys, we'll be like three or four -- or maybe even two -- games out," Hunter said. "I definitely have to come back."

Back to the training room: Shannon Stewart has seen his fair share of injuries since arriving with the Twins in 2003, but his most recent one may be the most aggravating of all.

The recent tear to Stewart's left plantar fascia appears to be worse than the one earlier this season, which caused him to miss 33 games. Stewart admitted that even he does not know if he will be able to make it back to playing this season.

"I'm at the point right now that I'm frustrated, and I know the team is probably frustrated," Stewart said.

The plan is for Stewart to wear a boot on the foot for at least two weeks to see if the injury can calm down a bit before allowing at least a month to let it heal. Though there is some optimism from doctors that Stewart may return, both he and Gardenhire know that this could be a season-ending type of injury.

"I know he's in a lot of pain and it's going to be a while," Gardenhire said. "Shannon has a pretty high pain tolerance, but he's to the point where it's not doing good at all."

The injury has plagued Stewart since the very first day of Spring Training, and he hasn't been able to play at 100 percent at any point this season. In 44 games, Stewart has hit .293 with 21 RBIs.

"I'm disappointed because I know that if could play every day and be healthy, I could do things to help this club," Stewart said. "

Left field still a mix: The large number of injuries for the Twins has shaken up the outfield, but no spot more than left field.

Gardenhire has been limited in his options, with Stewart and Lew Ford going on the DL and Jason Kubel still experiencing soreness in both knees. Kubel underwent an MRI on his right knee Monday and it showed no structural damage, but just a little inflammation and fluid.

Kubel was slotted into the designated hitter role for Monday night's game, with Rondell White getting the nod in left, his first start in the outfield at the Metrodome this season.

For now, the plan seems to be to ease Kubel back into the lineup as a DH. White could see more time in left along with the team's most recent callup, Josh Rabe. Gardenhire kept Rabe out of the lineup for his first night so to get a feel for the Metrodome's outfield. Kubel will join him in left field when his knees heal.

"He'll be back out there," Gardenhire said. "It's just something you take your time with and let him get to feeling better before we get him back out in left."

Twins tidbits: The Twins were back to four players off the bench on Monday with the addition of Rabe and Terry Tiffee. Tiffee had missed two games to travel to Arkansas to be with his wife, Kelli, as she gave birth to twin boys, Talen and Brennan, early Saturday morning. ... In three starts for the Twins, Jason Tyner has gone 6-for-12 with five RBIs and the team has a perfect 3-0 record. ... White's first homer of the season Sunday marked the end of the longest drought in his career. White went 184 at-bats between home runs, with his previous streak being fewer than 130 at-bats.

Down on the farm: Glenn Williams blasted his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot with one out in the ninth, to carry Triple-A Rochester to a 5-3 victory over Ottawa on Sunday. ... Denard Span was 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs as Double-A New Britain defeated New Hampshire, 4-3. Adam Harben threw seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits. ... Brandon Roberts and JR Taylor each drove in three runs as part of Class A Fort Myers' 11-6 victory at Dunedin.

Coming up: The Twins will host Tampa Bay for Game 2 of the four-game series on Tuesday night in a matchup of two young aces. Francisco Liriano will take the mound against left-hander Scott Kazmir. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.

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