Injured shoulder keeps Willingham on the bench

Injured shoulder keeps Willingham on the bench

MINNEAPOLIS -- Left fielder Josh Willingham missed his third straight game on Friday because of a sprained left shoulder, an injury sustained while trying to make a leaping catch in the outfield on Monday.

Manager Ron Gardenhire plans to be cautious with Willingham, as he doesn't want him to re-aggravate his shoulder with less than a week left in the season.

Willingham tried to take swings before Friday's game against the Tigers but told Gardenhire he didn't feel right. Matt Carson started in his place.

"You definitely don't want him going into the offseason with shoulder problems," Gardenhire said. "With the swinging part, he's not comfortable doing that, and you don't want him going into the outfield, diving and hurting himself. You don't want him to start the offseason doing rehab. So we're going to be very careful."

Gardenhire wouldn't rule out sitting Willingham for the rest of the year just yet, saying it'll be up to Willingham.

"I'm going to go by what he says, and right now he can't play, so I don't plan on putting him out there until he says he can," Gardenhire said. "And if anyone could play, he'd play."