A right wrist injury that bothered Oswaldo Arcia late in the 2013 season flared up again earlier this month, causing the young outfielder to miss a couple weeks of action just as his season was getting started.
Now, Arcia is by all accounts ready to put the wrist ailment behind him. He took batting practice on Target Field without incident Friday and then headed to Rochester, where he began his rehab assignment by going 3-for-3 as the DH on Saturday. He played six more innings Sunday.
It looks like Arcia is almost ready to return. But are the Twins ready for him?
The offense has been surprisingly productive in Arcia's absence, thanks in large part to contributions from Jason Kubel, Chris Colabello and Josmil Pinto. Those three have been regularly occupying the corner outfield and DH spots, leaving no obvious landing spot for Arcia when he comes off the disabled list.
In the big picture, you can certainly argue that Arcia is more important to the team's offensive success than any of Kubel, Colabello and Pinto, but right now there is -- dare I say? -- a logjam of quality bats.
Could the hard-swinging 22-year-old be left in Triple-A when he's activated from the DL?
Arcia's emphatic reaction after a key late-game triple in the season-opening series against the White Sox will go down as one of the month's highlights, but he hadn't done much outside of that in early action. In 18 plate appearances, he had six strikeouts, one walk and two hits.
That's obviously too small a sample to base much on, but he was swinging out of his shoes a bit, and now he's coming back from a prolonged absence, so the Twins might just want to see him demonstrate in Rochester for a while longer that he's got his timing and he has reined in his swing.
He needs to be playing every day and right now that would be hard to accomplish without drastically altering a formula that's working in Minnesota.
Josmil Pinto has been one of the team's best hitters and he should probably stick mostly at DH for now, since his defense has been erratic and Kurt Suzuki has been very good all-around behind the plate.
Condensing Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello into a platoon in left field is an option. That would make sense for Kubel, who is characteristically struggling against southpaws with a .192 average, but Colabello has actually been better against righties, as is typical for him.
Also, how do you demote a guy who has been as crucial to your offense -- and as unbelievably fun to watch -- as Colabello to a part-time role? The Twins essentially have to keeping riding him unless he cools off substantially.
If one of the players currently in the mix gets hurt or hits a wall, or if Arcia rakes in Triple-A to a degree that it's no longer palatable to keep him there, a switch can be made quickly.
Right now, the Twins are in a position where they can afford to be very patient with their uber-talented young slugger. One thing they cannot afford to do is put him back on the MLB roster if he won't be playing almost every day.