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Finger injuries keep Punto, Cuddyer out

Sore fingers bench Punto, Cuddyer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will likely be without infielder Nick Punto for all of this weekend's series against the Rangers due to his sore finger, and it's still unclear just when right fielder Michael Cuddyer might return to the field because of his finger injury.

Punto was scheduled to receive a cortisone shot in the knuckle of his sore left ring finger on Friday night. The infielder underwent an MRI and an X-ray on his finger earlier in the day, and it revealed no ligament damage or break in the bones.

But the cortisone shot means it will be a couple of days before Punto can return to action, and that leaves the Twins one player short on their bench. Manager Ron Gardenhire still didn't rule out a possible stint on the disabled list for Punto, saying that the Twins will know more by how the infielder's finger feels on Saturday.

If the injury looks like it might linger into the start of a series in New York on Monday, Gardenhire said the club would likely need to make a roster move.

"I didn't want to play this series without him," Gardenhire said. "We'll see how his finger reacts to this. If his finger starts feeling better tomorrow, then we'll know if we will probably have him for Sunday or maybe Monday. If not, I'm going to have to do something. This is not the time to be playing [short-handed]."

It's still unclear exactly what caused the injury that first sidelined Punto last Saturday before a game against the Tigers. Punto said he's seen improvement in the finger, and the hope is that the shot will be the answer to fixing the problem.

"The doctors seem pretty optimistic that I'll be OK in a couple of days," Punto said.

Cuddyer, who was eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Sunday, has not seen any progress in his strained left index finger. The plan had been for Cuddyer to try to grip a bat during the Twins' workout on Thursday night but the doctors advised him otherwise.

The outfielder said that the mobility in his hand has increased with some of the stiffness going away, but the soreness that he feels has not decreased at all. Gardenhire said that Cuddyer could possibly undergo another MRI on Saturday to make sure nothing was missed in the first test. But right now, there is no timetable for Cuddyer's return, and it's clearly left the outfielder frustrated.

"I like to bounce back," Cuddyer said. "So there is nothing worse than, one, having no timetable, and two, having it be a lot longer than I really wanted it."

The hope for Gardenhire is that the influx of finger injuries that Minnesota has endured this season will finally subside and his team can get back to having its full lineup intact.

"If we get healthy, we'll be in better shape," Gardenhire said. "We had a nice little plan going there [with the lineup]; we just haven't been able to do it enough."

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

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