Catcher avoids concussion concerns; first baseman plunked on knee
By Cody Stavenhagen
CHICAGO -- A 7-2 loss to the White Sox on Saturday night was the Twins' fourth straight defeat, and this one came with more collateral damage.
So, consider this the good news for the Twins: catcher Kurt Suzuki stood at his locker after the game and was adamant he is fine despite leaving the game in the fifth inning with upper shoulder trapezius tightness.
Suzuki took a foul ball off his mask in the first inning that caused an injury delay, but he caught three more innings before leaving. Suzuki said he passed concussion tests after the game.
"Just a precautionary thing," Suzuki said. "I feel fine. I've never been in a fight before. ... But you get hit, you get dazed, it's kind of like that. Get a little whiplash. Nothing major, just the kind of thing where you don't want it to happen again."
Manager Paul Molitor said Juan Centeno will start at catcher Sunday but thinks Suzuki will be available as a backup.
The Twins also lost Byung Ho Park on Saturday when he took a slider from Chris Sale off his right knee in the first inning.
Park, who entered on a six-game hitting streak, left the game before the ensuing half-inning. There was no definitive word on Park postgame, but the team initially said his status is day to day.
"He was fairly sore, and we were concerned to get him out of the game and get checked out," Molitor said.
Things could be worse for Minnesota. With a roster already in flux, shortstop Eduardo Escobar going on the disabled list Saturday morning and Brian Dozier nursing a sore right hamstring, any more serious injuries could be crushing.
If there's a positive message to take away, go back to Suzuki's injury.
On a 2-2 count, Brett Lawrie fouled off a fastball right into Suzuki's mask.
"I've taken some hits before," Suzuki said. "This one was probably one of the more direct ones I've taken, where your mask doesn't fall off. Usually when the mask falls off, that's a good sign because it kind of deflected it."
After he was shaken up, he initially stayed in the game.
"He was saying he was fine, but I could tell in his eyes he was not fine," starting pitcher Ervin Santana said.
Suzuki immediately called for a slider in the dirt. Lawrie bit on the pitch and struck out. Suzuki slid over to block the pitch, possibly saving a run, and ended the inning.
"I didn't lose memory," Suzuki said. "I still knew what the count was, and I was trying to get out of the inning."
At 8-22, the Twins are shaken, but there is plenty of season left.
"It's not going our way right now, but we have to come tomorrow and just play hard," Santana said.
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Twins on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.