Gilberto Celestino out 6-8 after thumb surgery

Twins announced today that outfielder Gilberto Celestino has torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, as announced by Do-Hyoung Park of Celestino underwent surgery and is looking at a six to eight week recovery period.

Celestino, 24, got his first extended taste of the majors last year, appearing in 122 games for the Twins. He wasn’t able to contribute much on the offensive side of things, hitting just a pair of home runs in 347 plate appearances. He walked at a healthy 9.2% rate, but his .238/.313/.302 line amounted to an 82 wRC+, indicating he was 18% below the league average.

He’s considered a strong defender and the stats seemed to back that up last year. He played all three outfield spots but more in the center than in the corners. His work up the middle resulted in two Defensive Runs Saved, three Outs Above Average and a 0.3 Ultimate Zone Rating. That kind of capable central defense has been valuable for a club that has the often injured Byron Buxton as his primary choice in the position.

However, the Twins pushed Celestino down the depth chart this offseason with their acquisition of Michael A. Taylor. One of the best defensive outfielders in the game, he looks to be Buxton’s primary backup in center. The club also have a host of away cornerback options such as Joey Gallo, Max Kepler, Alex Kirillov, Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner.

Given all those options, Celestino was too good to make the club’s Open Day roster. But considering the way a mountain of injuries has sunk the team in 2022, any blow to the club’s depth is at least mildly concerning.

Once Celestino heals, he will likely need a rehab assignment to get into game shape. Depending on how the club feels about his prognosis, it’s possible he could go on the 60-day injured list in the coming weeks. Players are eligible to move to the 60-day IL now, but the clock doesn’t start counting down until Opening Day, which is March 30. If the club doesn’t expect Celestino to be back game-ready by the end of May, it could use his roster spot to claim a waiver, sign or add a non-roster invitee.

For Celestino, she still has one year to choose. Even when healthy, he’s likely to stay in the minors, depending on what else happens with the big league club. That could make this year for him, which makes this setback an unfortunate development for him on a personal level.

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