Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Game Thread Twins @ Cubs 9 /20/2020 6:00 PM CDT

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:47 PM
The Twins conclude their week in Chicago with a Sunday night game against the Cubs. The Twins have won two of the first six games against...
Full topic ›

Gardy announces retirement

Other Baseball Today, 09:21 PM
This is an AP article lifted from the StarTribune web site.DETROIT — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire announced his immediate retirement bar...
Full topic ›

The Defense And Reality of Dobnak

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:43 PM
I almost posted this in a front page thread but decided it needed it's own. I know we are in a playoff push with mixtures of optimism and...
Full topic ›

LT contracts for current star position players

Other Baseball Today, 09:13 AM
I see that Yelich is still effected by a broken kneecap from last year and has a longterm contract now through 2028. It always raised an...
Full topic ›

How does this scoring get the win?

Other Baseball Today, 09:35 AM
Here is the pitching box Grateral 1.1 innings one run Kolarek 0.2 innings no runs Dodgers take lead May 5.1 innings 3 runs Gonzalez 1 inn...
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs


Josh Donaldson's Cursed (and Blessed) Calves

Josh Donaldson struggled through his first six games as a Twin before exiting midway through last Friday's contest due to right calf tightness. We haven't seen him since, and it is not entirely clear when we'll see him again.

Maybe this weekend in Kansas City. Maybe not.

Either way, his early bout with a longtime tormenter serves as a stark reminder of the risk attached to Donaldson's lucrative four-year contract, the largest in franchise history.
Image courtesy of David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
There is always an inherent amount of risk involved with guaranteeing a large sum of money to a player in his mid-30s. It is the fickle free agent quandary that has generally dissuaded Minnesota from entering into this arena at the high end in years past.

Mid-market teams can ill afford to be tethered to albatross contracts that consume a huge chunk of their available payroll each year. (The Joe Mauer contract, while criticized too much and for all the wrong reasons, was certainly an impediment to Terry Ryan's team-building efforts in the 2010s.)

Donaldson carries his own unique level of risk on top of the age factor. While the term "injury-prone" gets tossed around too often, it is valid in the case of someone who has a specific recurring issue. The third baseman's lengthy history of calf problems represents just that.

Here's something you may or may not know about Josh Donaldson (it's not all that obvious when he's in uniform): He has enormous calves. Seriously. This photo of "Calfzilla" from The Athletic's David O'Brien, taken at Target Field last year, is illustrative:



(Side note: I also have very big calves. It's been a running joke among friends since high school. One time a guy wrote the following line while targeting me in a battle rap: "Nick Nelson, your calves are gigantic, like the Titanic, or even the Atlantic." It was a scorching burn. My point being: I can relate in some small way.)

For his part, Donaldson has called his large calves a blessing and a curse, which sounds about right. His incredibly muscular lower half is no doubt a major contributor to his almost unparalleled ability to crush baseballs, but those calves in particular have been very problematic in recent years.

His troubles began in 2017 with the Blue Jays. Donaldson suffered a right calf strain on April 13th that knocked him out until late May. He came back and performed well the rest of the way, but played only 113 games total.

In 2018, he suffered a left calf injury 36 games in. After three weeks on the DL, he was seemingly ready to return in late June, but suffered a setback while fielding ground balls ahead of a rehab game, with an acute strain delaying his return indefinitely. "He was moving along, and then something happens. What are you going to do?" said his manager John Gibbons.

The slugger never played again for Toronto. They traded a rehabbing Donaldson to Cleveland just ahead of the post-waiver deadline on August 31st. He had a solid final month for the Indians, then went 1-for-11 with a single in an ALDS loss to Houston.

As we all know, Donaldson bounced back in a big way last year in Atlanta, making a statement by playing in 155 games. He was named Comeback Player of the Year. But that accolade only comes with a preceding tribulation, and the one Donaldson faced is hardly out of mind just because of one great rebound season.

Let's keep in mind that other contenders in JD's free agent derby (Washington and Atlanta, most notably) were shying away from four-year commitments. Even for the Twins, he was hardly their No. 1 target coming into the offseason, and talks looked to be dead before reviving in late January.

As smoothly as things have gone for Minnesota in the early portion of this 2020 campaign, Donaldson's calf issues resurfacing within the first 10 days qualifies as a significant buzzkill, mostly from the big-picture view. They can get by without him for now, but the former MVP is a key component of their grand scheme, and they invested in him accordingly.

I'd like to have genuine confidence in the team's position that this is a minor injury and not something they expect to be a long-term concern. But in a way, that just feels like wishful thinking.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • mikelink45 and ToddlerHarmon like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

13 Comments

Some players are so unlucky with injuries.As a person who has had too many replacements and operations from my years backpacking, climbing, skiing, and canoeing I know how frustrating injuries can be.The difficulty for the Twins is that we really do not have an adequate 3B replacement.Marwin is great as a fill in, but he is utility and should not be a regular.Adrianza is even less of a good replacement for extended times.Is it time for Blankenhorn to get a try out?I would. 

 

Good luck to Donaldson, I hope he is back soon.For the Twins good luck too.This was a great signing and I would hate to have it backfire and cause them to be more cautious in the future.

Photo
Nick Nelson
Aug 07 2020 01:33 PM

Donaldson is not in the lineup for tonight's game in KC. 

long-time lurker, first time poster

 

Whats the prognosis for 3B the remainder of the season assuming Donaldson doesn't get back?Continue the platoon approach?Or is there any consideration of moving Sano back on a permanent basis?

Donaldson needs a calf masseuse on permanent payroll to keep those bulging calves loose 2 times a day. I think he can afford it. Everyone has to have a plan to keep on the field and being able to do what they do without something stupid like this repeating itself over and over. That should be part of his plan. Yin Yoga daily wouldn't hurt, either. Keep them babies LOOSE!

 

Donaldson is not in the lineup for tonight's game in KC. 

 

Maybe Cruz and Donaldson are getting massages.

I told you.

This is a chronic issue for JD. He was still worth the signing as in a standard length season this would have less impact as a lesser % of games missed. Twins likely need JD's bat and glove to make a world series run.

 

I told you.

 

You were not the only one who expressed concerns, so this kind of 'I told you so' post really serves no purpose

    • wabene likes this
34 year old 4 year $92 million sure looks good now.
Photo
Nick Nelson
Aug 07 2020 03:43 PM

 

long-time lurker, first time poster

 

Whats the prognosis for 3B the remainder of the season assuming Donaldson doesn't get back?Continue the platoon approach?Or is there any consideration of moving Sano back on a permanent basis?

Their depth is strong at a lot of positions, but not so much this one. I broke down what it would look like if Donaldson went down in my preseason 3B position analysis ... here's the rub:

 

There's pretty much zero not to like about Donaldson, but when you look past him on the depth chart, and in the pipeline, things get bleak in a hurry. Sizing up the long-term picture at third base, it suddenly becomes much easier to see why the Twins were willing to go four years with the 34-year-old, and why they'll need to hope he can hang at the hot corner for some time.

 

... 

 

It would actually be interesting to see what would happen if Donaldson were to go down for a while. Would the Twins move Sano back across the diamond? Would they slide over Arraez, who started 15 games at third as a rookie, and tap into their superior depth at second base? Or would they leave the right side of their infield alone and just let the utilitymen hold it down?

 

Hopefully we won't need to find out. Donaldson played in all but seven games for Atlanta last year, and has generally been an iron man with the exception of 2017 and 2018, when he missed a full season's worth of games due to recurring calf issues. His 2019 was very reassuring, but at 34, nothing can be taken for granted.

Photo
Nick Nelson
Aug 07 2020 05:42 PM

UPDATE: Donaldson has now officially been placed on IL, and the Twins are terming his injury a "calf strain" rather than tightness. 

Photo
twinbythebay
Aug 07 2020 06:04 PM

 

long-time lurker, first time poster

 

Whats the prognosis for 3B the remainder of the season assuming Donaldson doesn't get back?Continue the platoon approach?Or is there any consideration of moving Sano back on a permanent basis?

I don't think they'll want to mess with Sano by moving him again, he needs all the reps he can get at 1B. Gonzalez and Adrianza are more than capable of holding down 3B, and they're both better fielders than Sano anyway.

    • wabene likes this

34 year old 4 year $92 million sure looks good now.

Why? We're not even rivals.

Similar Articles


by Nick Nelson , Today, 09:33 PM
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 15 Sep 2020
Photo


by John Bonnes , 07 Sep 2020
Photo


by Nick Nelson , 06 Sep 2020
Photo


by John Bonnes , 30 Aug 2020
Photo