Notes: Redmond deals with injuries
Twins bullpen is wearing thin; Tyner remembers his homer
CLEVELAND -- Mike Redmond's playing time has increased this season, so have his injuries.A player best known for his ability to take a hit and keep on playing, Redmond has survived his share of blows already this season. That includes getting hit in the head with a bat in Chicago, taking another bat to the shoulder in a game against the Royals, and even being hit by a pitch in the elbow. But an injury to the knuckle on his left middle finger has been the most problematic for the catcher this season. Redmond first injured the finger back on July 19, and it's been a nagging issue ever since. While it gets a little better at times, it's an injury that he feels will affect him the rest of the season. In instances like Monday night's game against the Indians, when the knuckle caught on one of his swings and flared up again, Redmond feels like he's back to square one with the injury. "It's just something that won't heal until I get to the offseason," Redmond said. "Then maybe we can find out if I need to do something to help it heal." Yet even with the pain, Redmond continues to play. He was behind the plate again for Tuesday's game despite the fact that the finger was taped up for most of the afternoon. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he has tried to take it a bit easier on Redmond, due to the finger issue, but with Joe Mauer's injury-plagued season, the backup catcher has been called into duty more often this year. "He comes to play," Gardenhire said of Redmond. "He knows his role and he doesn't want to miss out on the opportunities he gets to play." Redmond is on pace to set career highs in games played and at-bats. With 249 at-bats already this season, Redmond is just seven at-bats away from tying his previous high, which he reached in 2002 with the Marlins. His start behind the plate on Tuesday also marked his 75th game this season, leaving him just 14 games shy of the 82 he played in '02. The opportunity to play so much is something Redmond isn't taking for granted. Even when the finger sets him back, he said he's ready to go. And that's especially true with his team in the midst of a pennant race. "These are important games in an important series, so I'll be out there," Redmond said. Bullpen woes: One of the biggest concerns for Gardenhire is the state of his bullpen. Gardenhire is worried that fatigue has started to set in for his relievers, and it's no surprise, considering how much they have thrown in the first five games of the road trip. The bullpen has combined to throw 15 1/3 innings over that span. Many of the pitchers have thrown in back-to-back games, with some putting in even more time. Julio DePaula has pitched in three straight games, throwing a total of 4 1/3 innings. So the hope is that the rotation will step up over the final two games to limit the need of using the club's relievers. "We've thrown these guys so much," Gardenhire said. "You can't keep going to the bullpen in the fourth or fifth inning every day and expect them to survive. Otherwise you lose your bullpen, too." Memory lane: The matchup against Jake Westbrook at Jacobs Field on Tuesday night gave Jason Tyner some time to reminisce about his first home run, which came against the pitcher in this park on July 29. A little mark of where Tyner's ball hit in the visiting bullpen still remains, along with a note commemorating that it was Tyner's first in 1,220 at-bats. Both teams have had fun with the amazing stat. Westbrook even sent Tyner a ball that read, "I would have rather given up No. 756," and Tyner has it displayed at home, right next to the home run ball. But the biggest change for Tyner might be something that he will no longer see at Jacobs Field -- the line on the scoreboard with his bio, which previously had commented on his homerless streak. "It's nice to have a one in every column, just to have something there," Tyner said with a laugh. Tyner extended his season-high hit streak to 11 games in the first inning on Tuesday with a single to center. Perkins update: Glen Perkins made his third start for Double-A New Britain on Tuesday, and the results were less than ideal. The left-hander pitched three innings, giving up six earned runs on seven hits while throwing 58 pitches. He allowed two home runs in the contest and walked one while striking out three. Gardenhire said earlier on Tuesday that the team would make a decision on whether Perkins would rejoin the club following this outing.
Twins tidbits: Mauer continued his rehab program on Tuesday with no real progress reported. Gardenhire said the next big step will be when Mauer hits on the field, and so far there is no timetable for that. ... Kevin Slowey was named the Most Valuable Pitcher of the International League. He was one of just two Red Wings to be named to the postseason All-Star squad, as catcher Jose Morales also earned the honor. ... Three members of the Twins gameday operations staff were on hand for the series with the Indians to check out the Jacobs Field scoreboard. The group is gathering research for the scoreboard in the Twins' new ballpark, which is scheduled to open for the 2010 season.Down on the farm: Brian Duensing allowed just three runs over seven innings to pick up his 11th win of the season in Triple-A Rochester's 10-5 victory over Pawtucket on Monday. Denard Span tallied four hits and four RBIs in the win to raise his season average to .265. ... Double-A New Britain split its doubleheader at Binghamton, dropping Game 1, 6-5, and picking up a 6-2 win in Game 2. Trevor Plouffe went 4-for-6 with two runs scored over the two contests. ... Class A Fort Myers dropped both games of a doubleheader against Clearwater, including getting no-hit in a 2-0 loss in Game 2. Jeff Manship gave up four runs over 1 2/3 innings in the club's 9-2 Game 1 loss. Coming up: The Twins and Indians will close out their three-game series with a duel of left-handed aces on Wednesday night in a 6:05 p.m. CT start. Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia are each looking for their 15th wins of the season in the finale.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.