Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Joe Mauer all spent time on the disabled list in 2011.
Injuries ravaged the Twins’ roster in 2012. With so many players out at the beginning of the season, the Twins never really found their groove offensively and ended up with 99 losses. 2011 ended with the Twins a slew of different lineups, never giving the team any chance for consistency. To avoid a repeat of 2011, the Twins have to make sure to monitor some of the injuries to some key players as well as have quality bench players on call to have any success in 2012.
One of the biggest stories of 2011 was Joe Mauer’s vaguely-explained “bilateral leg weakness” that directly affected Mauer’s production in 2011. In 333 plate appearances, Mauer batted .287—the lowest of his career. The problem with Mauer’s legs also led to his first start at 1B of his career.
Twins GM Terry Ryan has claimed that Mauer is 100 percent and ready to go for the season. But the Twins’ catcher has also had knee problems in the past, and the Twins need to find a way to keep him healthy all year. It is no understatement to say that the Twins’ season rides on Mauer’s health.
The Twins’ success also depends on if Justin Morneau recovers from his concussion that occurred in 2010. Morneau started the 2011 season but missed games with sickness, an injured wrist, and a shoulder injury on top of concussion-like symptoms that finally ended Morneau’s season in August.
The Twins are optimistic that Morneau will be ready for opening day but concussions are not easy to come back from. The Twins can only hope that Morneau remains healthy and can fully recover from his concussion.
Denard Span was only able to play in 70 games in 2011 after suffering a concussion. Migraines kept Span out until the end of the season as he still struggled with symptoms. With trade rumors swirling around Span from last year, it’s still up in the air if he is in the Twins’ long-term plan but whether they keep him in the outfield or trade him, the Twins hope he regains his 2009 form.
One of the newest Twins is also one of the biggest question marks as far as injuries. In 2010, Zumaya blew out his elbow at Target Field, resulting in two surgeries. But that was hardly the start of his injuries. He has had previous injuries to his wrist and shoulder as well. The Twins took a gamble to sign Zumaya, optimistic that he not re-aggravate an old injury.
The Twins took a huge gamble on Nishioka in 2011. A star in Japan, Nishioka lasted only a week before he suffered a broken fibula. Nishioka only batted .226 and whether the injury had anything to do with that production cannot be known. In order to consider the acquisition of Nishioka a success, his production will have to improve after his injury.
Jason Marquis is also one of the free-agent acquisitions from the offseason. In August, the right-hander was struck by the line drive to the lower right leg and suffered a broken fibula. Marquis did not make it back to the field last year so the Twins are looking to him to replicate his season line with Washington and fully recover from his injury.
Injuries to the Twins directly impacted the play of the Twins, especially early in the season. Other players that made visits to the DL in 2011 on the Twins roster are Alexi Casilla (hamstring), Glen Perkins (oblique), Francisco Liriano (shoulder), Scott Baker (flexor), and Josh Willingham (Achilles tendon). With the Tigers making huge acquisitions this offseason, the Twins needs to stay healthy to remain a threat in the division and make the playoffs.