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Justin Topa Shut Down For Six Weeks With Patellar Tendon Tear

Justin Topa Shut Down For Six Weeks With Patellar Tendon Tear

Twins reliever Justin Topa has been diagnosed with a partial tear in the patellar tendon in his left knee. Trainer Nick Paparesta told the club’s beat that the right-hander received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t begin throwing for at least six weeks (X link via Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com). Topa indicated he declined to undergo surgery in hopes of returning at some point in 2024.

Minnesota acquired the 33-year-old righty as one of four players in the deal sending Jorge Polanco to Seattle. Topa and Anthony DeSclafani were expected to deepen the major league pitching staff, but neither will make an impact for at least a good portion of the season. (Minnesota also landed prospects Gabriel Gonzalez and Darren Bowen in the trade.) DeSclafani is down for the year after undergoing flexor tendon surgery in late March. He’ll be a free agent next winter and might never pitch as a Twin.

Topa should still contribute this season, but it’s not likely to be before the All-Star Break. He entered camp as a potential high-leverage setup arm in front of Jhoan Duran. Topa is coming off a breakout season in Seattle in which he threw 69 innings of 2.61 ERA ball. While his 21.9% strikeout rate was pedestrian, his mid-90s sinker helped him keep the ball on the ground nearly 57% of the time opponents made contact.

Unfortunately, Topa has a lengthy injury history that likely contributed to the Mariners’ willingness to package him in the Polanco trade. He has twice undergone Tommy John surgery in addition to a flexor tendon repair. A knee issue isn’t as concerning as the multiple elbow procedures, but he’s in for another lengthy absence.

Topa is making $1.25MM this season and is under arbitration control through 2026. Minnesota will move him to the 60-day injured list whenever the need for a 40-man roster spot arises.

In more positive news, Minnesota announced tonight that Byron Buxton will start a rehab assignment at Triple-A St. Paul (link via Bobby Nightengale of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). He’ll play a pair of games with the Saints and could rejoin the Twins for their divisional series against the Guardians on Friday. Buxton has been out since May 3 with right knee inflammation. Assuming the rehab stint goes as planned, he’ll only miss a few days more than the minimal stay.

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