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Central Notes: Maeda, Kepler, Astudillo, O’Neill, Engel, Duffy


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The Twins suffered a 7-6 walkoff loss to the Athletics today, and the defeat was perhaps a particularly costly one for the Minnesota team. Both Max Kepler (hamstring) and Willians Astudillo (bruised hand) had to make early exits due to injury, while manager Rocco Baldelli told Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and other reporters that Kenta Maeda was trying to fight through some minor groin tightness that developed during the game.

Astudillo was hit by a pitch in the second inning and remained in the game before being replaced at catcher prior to the top of the fourth. Kepler’s injury occurred during the eighth inning, when he doubled and then advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on an Andrelton Simmons home run. Both players are being evaluated, while Maeda’s problem seems to be somewhat minor and perhaps the least-serious of the three injuries.

More from both the AL and NL Central…

  • Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill is day-to-day after suffering a sprained left middle finger in tonight’s 5-3 St. Louis loss to the Padres. O’Neill hurt his finger while stealing second base in the sixth inning, and remained in the field for the bottom half of the inning before being replaced prior to the bottom half of the seventh. O’Neill has already spent time on the injured list due to a groin injury this season, and he has hit .250/.290/.530 with eight home runs over 107 PA. Despite the low OBP and an ungainly 32.7% strikeout rate, O’Neill has been an overall productive (122 wRC+) hitter thanks to his big power and a lot of hard contact. The defending Gold Glove winner is also still providing very solid defense in left field.
  • Adam Engel has missed the entire season due to a hamstring strain but could be nearing a rehab assignment, White Sox manager Tony La Russa told’s Scott Merkin and other reporters. Engel “certainly is looking more like himself” in workouts, according to La Russa, and “as far as the physical getting to 100 percent, I think he’s either there or very close.” Engel’s return would be welcome news to an injury-plagued Chicago outfield, particularly if Engel can combine his normal strong glovework with the offensive improvement (.295/.333/.477 in 93 PA) he showed in the 2020 campaign.
  • Matt Duffy has been a solid contributor for the Cubs, hitting .284/.379/.370 over 95 plate appearances while getting the bulk of third base playing time since Kris Bryant has been regularly deployed in the outfield. According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma, Duffy has long been on the Cubs’ radar, as the team tried to land Duffy both in the 2019-20 offseason and last summer, before Duffy instead inked minor league contracts with the Rangers in the winter and then the Yankees after Texas released him before the season. Duffy didn’t end up seeing any MLB action in 2020, and his agent Paul Cohen tells Mooney and Sharma that “I probably had half a dozen teams reach out to me: ’Would [Duffy] be interested in joining our front office or our coaching staff?’ That’s the kind of impression this guy has made through his travels.”