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Updated: July 1st, 2013 7:30pm
Josh Willingham will undergo MRI on knee after being scratched from lineup

Josh Willingham will undergo MRI on knee after being scratched from lineup

by Judd Zulgad and Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins' concern about Josh Willingham's lingering left knee injury became greater on Monday night and it appears the left fielder could be headed to the disabled list.

Willingham had been scheduled to bat fourth and serve as the designated hitter against the New York Yankees, but it was announced as the game got underway that he had been taken out of the lineup.

In the second inning, the team announced that Willingham had experienced increased discomfort in the knee during warmups and would undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning.

"About three minutes before the game started he came up and said, he can hit but that's about it," manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Twins' 10-4 loss. "He can run but he can't stop. His leg was killing him. ... We'll figure it out. I know we need another player right now.

"We can't continue to play like that with two guys on the bench. We're going to try to make a decision here and see what happens. We're pretty thin right now and that one kind of came out of nowhere. I thought he was doing pretty good."

Said Willingham: "I've been dealing with it for a while and it just wasn't good."

Asked if it would make sense for him to go on the disabled list, Willingham said: "Maybe. We're not sure yet. We'll just have to address that."

If Willingham is placed on the DL, the Twins options could include recalling center fielder Aaron Hicks or Chris Herrmann from Triple-A Rochester. Hicks has been on a rehab assignment. Herrmann was with the Twins earlier this season and can catch or play the outfield.

Willingham did not start on Sunday against Kansas City after aggravating the injury on Friday night.

He got into Sunday's game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and belted a ground-rule double to left field off Aaron Crow. That hit drove in the tying run and Willingham said he ran at 30 percent on the play. He was taken out for pinch runner Brian Dozier.

Willingham has been bothered by knee woes since making an awkward slide when he recorded his only stolen base of the season on April 27 against Texas. Willingham had a cortisone shot during the last homestand, but it's unclear what, if any effect it had.

The knee issues have clearly affected Willingham at the plate. Since first hurting the knee, Willingham has hit only .214/.342/.353, dropping his season OPS from .940 to .754.

Also missing from the Twins lineup on Monday was catcher Joe Mauer, who arrived at Target Field feeling under the weather. Mauer went 0-for-15 in the Twins' four-game series against Kansas City over the weekend. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
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