The injury occurred on an unusual play in the ninth inning on Sunday, when Gardner tried to score from second on a Francisco Cervelli infield single. Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer leapt from the infield grass and successfully tagged Gardner as he dove toward the plate, jamming his shoulder in the process. Gardner felt no pain immediately after the play and finished the game without issue.
"I really couldn't slide feetfirst," Gardner said. "I was just trying to beat him to the plate and try to get around him. My right arm didn't even make contact with him. It's one of those things where I looked back at the replay, and I said, 'How did that happen?' Hundreds and hundreds of times I've slid headfirst, and I've been fine."
Gardner said that he woke up in the middle of night hurting, and he called trainer Gene Monahan in the morning. He watched the replay multiple times on Monday and could not see what caused the injury.
Gardner underwent an MRI, confirming a bruise of his right rotator cuff, his non-throwing shoulder. He did not try any baseball activities on Monday but said that he could run and slide feetfirst if necessary. Girardi did not plan on using Gardner in the series finale against the Twins.
"It was just a freak thing," Gardner said. "The way it felt this morning, I'm guess I'm lucky that it's not any worse than it was. ... Hopefully, I'll be back in a couple days."
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.