Notes: Punto sidelined by sore knee

Notes: Punto sidelined by sore knee

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' limited number of bench players hadn't really seemed a problem -- that is until Nick Punto arrived at the ballpark on Tuesday with a sore left knee.

Punto went to see the doctor before batting practice, and the Twins third baseman was diagnosed with a bone bruise near his left kneecap.

"It's hurting to walk or jog, so I definitely can't play today," Punto said. "If it lets up, then maybe tomorrow I can go out there and play.

With Punto not an option, manager Ron Gardenhire slotted his only available infielder off the bench, Luis Rodriguez, at third base.

The injury isn't expected to be something that takes more than a few days, but the club is going to have to see how Punto feels before truly knowing how long he may be out. With just two outfielders and a backup catcher on the bench, it's a bit of a concern for the club.

Gardenhire had outfielder Michael Cuddyer at third base taking ground balls during batting practice in case of an emergency. Cuddyer, the starting third baseman for the club last season before being moved to the outfield in the offseason, has yet to see any time at third this season.

The team's only two other options at third would be Cuddyer or Mike Redmond, the team's backup catcher. It's unlikely that Gardenhire would risk using his only catcher off the bench, so getting Cuddyer prepared is a necessity. But if this injury does linger longer than another day or two, it's likely the Twins will have to make a roster move.

"You can't go without an extra infielder," Gardenhire said. "We'd have to go with something in a hurry. In a week we have another day off, but it's hard to go with two outfielders and a catcher on your bench without an extra infielder. ... If it would be any kind of length with this thing for Nick, then we'd definitely have to do something."

Exactly how the injury occurred is uncertain to Punto, who said he started to feel some soreness after Sunday's night game that has grown increasingly worse. He said a hard slide might have triggered it.

Knee problems aren't anything new to Punto. He has battled through some left knee soreness already this season that has cost him time. The pain that Punto is experiencing now is different, as previous sorness had come from the back of the knee.

He has spent a majority of the season having to do preventative icing to try to keep the knee in good shape. With injuries in the same knee starting to pile up, Punto was asked if he thinks he might need to have the knee examined after the season.

"Maybe, but hopefully not," Punto said. "My knee had been feeling a lot better before this."

Liriano update: Some confusion between the Twins coaching staff and the trainers had led to a few reports that Francisco Liriano might be playing catch Tuesday.

That was not the case, as Liriano will not be able to do any sort of throwing until he undergoes a medical evaluation this weekend to test the strength of his shoulder and see if the pain has diminished.

Liriano continues to do rehabilitation on the shoulder daily, and despite the fact the club is in the midst of a playoff race and could use the rookie All-Star, there are no plans to try to rush him back.

"There is no real timetable on this thing," Gardenhire said. "Once doctors deem he's ready to go out there, that he has enough strength in that arm and built up where we need it, then he'll start going out there and playing catch -- but not until then.

"We are going to make sure we do everything right from here on out, and make sure we check him knowing that he has this now. ... We want Francisco to let us know how he's feeling and to be honest about it, and the doctors are going to dictate from there," Gardenhire said. "He still has to be honest with us, and if he feels it, he feels it. Then we just back off again, and if he's fine, he'll tell us he's fine. I think we're on the same page now."

Wakeup call: The stomach virus that caused Gardenhire to miss four days of work earlier this month has dramatically changed the skipper's outlook on his health.

Gardenhire has lost about 16 pounds since getting sick due to a significant change in his diet. It was the length of time that the virus kept him out that made him re-examine how he was living.

"If a stomach virus can knock you down for four or five days and keep me away from the ballpark, then maybe it's a little reality check here and makes you wonder if you're taking care of yourself," Gardenhire said. "And honestly, the changes have worked, I feel a lot better."

Down on the farm: Jason Miller threw five innings and allowed six hits and two earned runs as Triple-A Rochester lost to Ottawa, 3-0, on Monday. The Red Wings managed just eight hits and lost their fourth straight game. ... Four Class A Fort Myers pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout as the Miracle beat Jupiter in the second game of a doubleheader, 3-0. The Miracle had won the first game, 2-1. Third baseman David Winfree homered in both victories to bring his total to 10 this season. ... Zachary Ward threw five innings and allowed five earned runs as Class A Beloit lost to Quad Cities, 7-1.

Coming Up: The Twins will take on the Indians in Game 2 of the three-game set on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. CT. Twins right-hander Carlos Silva (8-10, 6.41 ERA) will face off against Cleveland southpaw Cliff Lee (10-8, 4.64 ERA).

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