"In the next couple days if we see rapid improvement, we'll shoot for a couple weeks and try to play the last however many games," Plouffe said. "But if it's not progressing, it's a decision we'll have to make and see if it's worth the long-term risk of playing only a couple games. It would be different if we were in the [postseason] race, obviously."
Molitor said he's trying to be optimistic about Plouffe returning, but noted the injury often takes four-to-six weeks to heal.
"I don't think there's a very strong likelihood he's going to play, but as a player should you say there are just 23 games left and give up?" Molitor said. "I think the mindset someone should have is to try to play out the season. I know if I was him, I'd try to see if I could play."
It's the third major injury Plouffe has had to deal with this season, as he missed 13 games in April with a right intercostal strain before missing 32 games with a fractured left rib from early July. He had been playing well since his return in early August, hitting .277/.345/.465 with five homers, four doubles and 20 RBIs in 26 games.
But Plouffe, who is eligible for free agency after next season, admitted he's thought about the fact that Tuesday could've been his last game in a Twins uniform if he can't return this year. The Twins have a glut of corner infielders and a new front office could look to move him this offseason.
"Anything is possible," Plouffe said. "All the situations go through my mind. I was trying to play well to go into the offseason on a high note, but unfortunately it got cut short. But it's something I can't control so why worry about it? But if it happens and that was my last at-bat, it would be pretty sad. My No. 1 choice is to be back here and the last choice would be to not be back here."
Molitor, who lobbied for Plouffe not to be traded last offseason, acknowledged the tough timing of the injury. But Molitor said players such as Miguel Sano, Eduardo Escobar and James Beresford will get a chance to play third base down the stretch.
"We have a lot of options," Molitor said. "It's kind of like we've doing for a while here, shuffling the deck and looking for options. We're playing a lot of teams still in the mix so I'll be mindful of that as well."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.