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05/10/08 11:59 PM ET
Punto lands on disabled list
Infielder's bothersome hamstring forces Twins to make move
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nick Punto tried to test his sore left hamstring on Saturday afternoon, but the session was unsuccessful, meaning the Twins infielder is headed to the 15-day disabled list.
After doing some running during batting practice, Punto said that he feels a strain inside the muscle.
"We thought Nicky might be able to help us, but I think Nicky's going to have to be shut down," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before Saturday's game.
The Twins did place Punto on the DL following Saturday's game and called up infielder Alexi Casilla from Triple-A Rochester. Casilla was scratched from Rochester's lineup on Saturday night and was headed to Minnesota to be there in time for Sunday's night game against the Red Sox.
Casilla has hit .219 in 32 games for the Red Wings. The infielder has actually raised his batting average recently after some early scuffles, batting .346 (9-for-26) over his past 10 games.
"We need a middle guy with some speed," Gardenhire said of Casilla. "We'll use him off the bench, pinch-running, and however else we deem necessary until we get some people healthy around here."
Punto said he first injured the muscle in Wednesday night's game in Chicago. He was able to play with his sore left hamstring during the game, but when he tried to get loose for Thursday's day game, he really felt it grab.
The hope was that two days of rest would allow the muscle to heal. But the way that Punto felt Saturday, he said it would be some time before he could push the muscle, and that's something the Twins' shortened bench can't handle right now.
"It's just too bad," Punto said. "I've pulled a muscle before, so I know the time frame. It's not bad. It's not a horrible strain, but there's a strain in there. I think Gardy knows my personality, and he saw it in my face today that it's probably better off to put me on the DL, and he's probably right.
"You can play through a sprained ankle, you can play through a sprained knee, but you can't mess with muscles. If you try to push them, it's just going to blow out and then you're out a long time."
In addition to Punto's hamstring injury, second baseman Brendan Harris was out of Saturday's lineup due to a tight right hamstring. Harris left Friday's game in the fifth inning, but said that his leg was doing better on Saturday.
"It's a little tight, but I've been done a little running out there so I think it's loosened up and I'll be ready to go in an emergency situation," Harris said. "Hopefully I'll be able to get back in there tomorrow."
The injuries to the two infielders meant the Twins were left with just a pair of bench players -- catcher Mike Redmond and outfielder Craig Monroe -- for Saturday night's game against the Red Sox.
Gardenhire joked that since Harris was available in an emergency situation only, Redmond could possibly achieve his goal of finally seeing time at third base in a game.
"Red-dog takes [ground balls] at third every day, and he wants that on his bubble-gum card -- he might get it," Gardenhire said.