Correa has apparent broken finger after getting hit twice in Twins loss to Orioles

Correa has apparent broken finger after getting hit twice in Twins loss to Orioles

BALTIMORE – As if the Twins losing their manager and two key players to COVID-19 before Thursday’s game — and then losing the game 5-3 to the Orioles — wasn’t bad enough, Carlos Correa now might be out of the lineup for some time.

The star shortstop, who came to the Twins in a blockbuster free agency deal this spring camp, left Thursday’s loss in Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the seventh inning after being hit in the hand by two pitches.

Imaging done at the park revealed what appears to be a non-displaced fracture in his right middle finger, though the Twins are waiting on follow-up imaging and doctor’s visits Friday in Minneapolis to confirm the diagnosis. This type of fracture means the break does not run through the entire bone, meaning surgery usually isn’t necessary for it to heal.

The 27-year-old’s recovery could involve wearing a cast or splint and needing to take several weeks off to let the bone mend. In 24 games this season, Correa has collected five doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. Defensively, he seems to make athletic outs at short on an almost daily basis. And in the clubhouse, he’s quickly become one of the team leaders along with center fielder Byron Buxton.

Correa — who also had a seven-game hitting streak end Thursday — took a pitch off his hand before it ricocheted to his shoulder in the fifth inning. He stayed in the game and walked after a quick checkup from the trainers. But in his at-bat in the seventh, the ball appeared to hit his knuckle as he ground out, and he immediately winced and shook his hand in discomfort.

Jayce Tingler — the Twins’ bench coach who took Rocco Baldelli’s place in the dugout after the manager tested positive for COVID-19 — said Correa was “trying to squeeze” his hand and “in a lot of pain” after leaving the field. Nick Gordon replaced him at shortstop.

Should this injury sideline Correa for a significant amount of time, it’s possible top prospect Royce Lewis could be called up from Class AAA St. Paul in his stead. Lewis was the Twins’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. The 22-year-old only recently returned to playing on a regular basis, after the pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season and a torn ACL wiped out his 2021 year.

In 24 games with the Saints this season, he’s batting .310 with three home runs, 11 RBI, 11 doubles and a triple.

Karma was clearly not on the Twins’ side Thursday, as the team started the day dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that trapped Baldelli, starter Dylan Bundy and utility man Luis Arraez in the team hotel in Baltimore for at least a few more days.

Starting pitcher Chris Archer said he received a text about the outbreak on the team bus while driving to the stadium, and he didn’t learn of the three who had tested positive until about two hours before game time.

The starter said that calamity didn’t throw him off his routine, but it certainly didn’t help the Twins (15-11), who lost thanks to five Orioles solo home runs.

Baltimore first baseman Ryan Mountcastle bookended the scoring with his two bombs, taking one off Archer in the second inning and his final one off rookie reliever Jhoan Duran in the eighth.

Archer also conceded a homer to leadoff batter Cedric Mullins in the third inning, while Caleb Thielbar — the first arm out of the bullpen — coughed one up to ninth batter Jorge Mateo to start the fifth inning.

Duran — who was coming off his first career save in Monday’s victory — was on the mound in the eighth with the score tied 3-3 when he surrendered game-winning, back-to-back home runs to Austin Hays and Mountcastle and took his first loss.

Archer left the game after four innings, giving up five hits, two runs from the homers and accumulating six strikeouts. And while the Twins then cycled through four relievers in Thielbar, Griffin Jax, Duran and Jovani Moran, the pitching staff as a whole ended with zero walks and 12 strikeouts.

On offense, Buxton did his best to carry the Twins. He drove in a run with a bases-loaded fielder’s choice in the third inning and then launched his own 452-foot, two-run homer in the fifth.

The Twins entered this week-long road trip with a seven-game winning streak, relishing the early-season turnaround and the excitement it brewed for the future. They’re leaving it on a two-game skid and down four men.

“It stinks because [they’re] good players and our manager,” Archer said. “But we’ve got to find ways to win. And we played a hundred ball game. But we just couldn’t pull it out even with that adversity.”

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