When Michael Cuddyer suffered a fractured foot after being hit with a line drive during a rehab stint in the minors in early August, it seemed time to chalk 2008 up as a lost season for the right fielder. The best-case scenario had Cuddyer returning with just a few weeks left of the season, and with no minor-league seasons still going on, he wouldn't be able to get back up to speed at a lower level before joining the team. The success experienced by Denard Span after replacing Cuddyer in right field made it seem all the more likely that Cuddyer was done contributing this season.
Yet, for whatever reason, the Twins have been aggressively pushing to get Cuddyer back into action here in the final weeks of the season. He came on as a pinch-hitter in games on Saturday and Sunday, and just a day after saying that Cuddyer was not an option to start because he couldn't run on his foot, Ron Gardenhire inserted him as the starting designated hitter last night. My question is, why?
Prior to his pinch-hit appearance in Saturday's game, Cuddyer had not taken a major-league at-bat since late June. As aforementioned, he wasn't able to go on a minor-league rehab stint before returning to the team this time, so he hasn't experienced live game action since he hurt his foot. He's gone 1-for-5 and hasn't looked good at the plate. He can't run well because his foot is still bothering him. Furthermore, Span has done an excellent job of filling in in right field while Randy Ruiz has been solid as a right-handed bat off the bench. There is essentially no reason to be giving at-bats to Cuddyer at this point other than blind loyalty and commitment to his newly minted contract. With the Twins a game out of first place with 12 games left to play, their priorities should be arranged a bit differently.