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Twins’ outfield depth takes another hit

Forest Lake’s Matt Wallner joins team on taxi squad

MLB: Game One-Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
Minnesota Twins right fielder Kyle Garlick catches a fly ball against the New York Yankees on Sept. 7, 2022, at Yankee Stadium.
Gregory Fisher / USA Today Sports
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Situated near the entrance to the visitor’s clubhouse Friday was a locker bearing a nameplate that read “Wallner.”

No, the Twins have not yet called up the Forest Lake native, but they did bring him to Cleveland to serve as a member of the taxi squad as their outfield group continues to be thinned by injuries. Kyle Garlick was the latest casualty, landing on the injured list with a left wrist sprain after magnetic resonance imaging showed what manager Rocco Baldelli called “some signal.”

“I don’t know if it’s going to be 10 days. I don’t know if it’s going to be a little longer than that or for the rest of the year,” Baldelli said. “We’re just going to have to treat him and kind of assess this as time goes on.”

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Garlick became the fourth outfielder to land on the injured list, joining Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach. Max Kepler, who is dealing with wrist soreness, is not on the injured list, but he has not played since Sunday.

To fill Garlick’s spot on the roster, the Twins called up Mark Contreras, leaving them with a starting outfield of Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino and Mark Contreras to begin the most important series of the season.

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“Most teams deal with injuries, and we’ve dealt with probably more — we knew they’d be coming, but we’ve probably dealt with more than we’ve even anticipated so far this year, and the outfield’s definitely a part of our team that’s felt it,” Baldelli said.

Had rosters not been expanded earlier this month, giving the Twins more bench spots to use, Kepler probably would be on the injured list by this point, too, Baldelli said.

“We’re just going to continue to treat Kep right now,” Kepler said. “We’re going to try to get him in the cage, see if he can swing the bat a little bit and see where he’s at.”

As for Wallner, Baldelli said they don’t have anything “stamped and ready to go with him,” but he could be a potential option for them, particularly if Kepler’s injury lingers. Wallner, the 39th overall pick in the 2019 draft, is hitting .277 with 27 home runs and a .953 OPS this season between Double and Triple-A.

“If we need to make a move and we need to add another bat potentially to the lineup, Wallner’s a guy that could be that guy,” Baldelli said. “That’s why we brought him.”

Varland returns

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Louie Varland

The Twins will turn to a pair of rookies in Saturday’s pivotal doubleheader, starting Louie Varland in the first game and Josh Winder in the nightcap. The St. Paul native, who debuted on Sept. 7 at Yankee Stadium with 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, will be the team’s 29th man.

In preparation for this start, the Twins sent Varland to their facility in Fort Myers, Fla., rather than returning him to the Saints. The reasoning was to help him keep on a five-day schedule. With the Saints off on Monday, he instead went to Florida and threw a simulation game, facing both Larnach and Ryan Jeffers, who were down there rehabbing.

“I knew what I had to do to get myself ready,” Varland said. “Having that in mind, like, ‘Alright, I’m going to be back up here next Saturday,’” was good for all that.”

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Briefly

Randy Dobnak cleared outright waivers and has accepted his assignment to Triple-A, clearing a spot on the 40-man roster. Dobnak has spent this season — and much of last — dealing with and rehabbing from a finger injury on his throwing hand. With his allotted rehab time running up — pitchers can be on a rehab assignment for 30 days — the Twins made the move rather than add him to their active roster. … Jorge Polanco played second base during a rehab assignment on Friday in St. Paul. Jeffers served as the Saints’ designated hitter in his first rehab game at Triple-A. Larnach, who is also there rehabbing, had an active recovery day. … Austin Martin, one of the prospects included in the Jose Berrios trade, will headline the group of Twins prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League.

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