In case you missed it, Trevor Plouffe fractured his forearm as he attempted to apply a tag at third base in yesterday's game. The Twins were leading 2-0 in the top of the sixth when the Diamondbacks attempted a double steal with nobody out, and Kurt Suzuki's throw was a hair too late. But in that moment Plouffe caught the ball and brought the glove down, and his arm collided with A.J. Pollack's leg - just above the kneecap.
"It was a kind of a weird play," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They were stealing and he goes to make the tag and ends up breaking his arm. He's seeing Dr. [Thomas] Varecka tomorrow. They'll kind of decide which route they're going."
When Gardy refers to "which route," he probably means "surgery" or "no surgery." If just one bone is broken and it's not bent out of shape too badly, setting the arm and putting it in a cast is sometimes all that's needed. But if it's a bad break, or if it's both bones, then surgery would be required. Those surgeries, by design, would happen very soon after the event unless there's a great deal of swelling that would make the invasion dangerous.
Broken bones in the forearm can heal in three to six months, depending on the severity of the brake and the individual. Whether Plouffe goes through the surgical or non-surgical route, rehabilitation begins with small range-of-motion exercises before building to full-range exercises, and that would start shortly after surgery or, without surgery, after a few weeks in a brace.
Under most scenarios, Plouffe is likely to be ready to play by spring training. But in a worst-case scenario, where he's still dealing with too much soreness six months from now (the end of March), the Twins would need to have a backup plan in place for a starting third baseman heading into 2015. Miguel Sano is rehabbing his Tommy John-repaird arm, but even an optimistic timeline doesn't see him ready to start at third for the Twins until June or July.
It's a real bummer for Plouffe, in the sense that he's having a pretty decent year. He set career-best marks in a number of categories including walks and batting average, but most impressive are his 40 doubles and positive reviews - almost across the board - in his defensive metrics at third base. This winter he'll be arbitration-eligible for the second time, and it's doubtful that this injury will change the fact that he's likely to be tended a contract.
Eduardo Nunez and Eduardo Escobar seem the players most likely to take the last couple starts at third base. It will be interesting to see how the Twins approach the third base situation over the winter, especially if they don't believe Plouffe will be ready to go out of spring training.