Hunter was the third Twins outfielder disabled in the past four days, a discouraging development for a team that is desperately trying to catch the Tigers and White Sox in the AL Central race.
Lew Ford strained a muscle on his right side while swinging at a pitch in Thursday's game, and Shannon Stewart returned to the DL for the second time this season after reinjuring his left foot Saturday night.
Outfielder Josh Rabe was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take Hunter's place, and he is expected to join the team for Monday night's game against the Devil Rays.
Rondell White's rehabilitation assignment ended hastily when Stewart went down, and he was the designated hitter Sunday against the Indians. Jason Tyner was brought up after Ford's injury, and he played left. Michael Cuddyer was in right field, and Nick Punto -- a utility infielder who became the starting third baseman a month ago -- started for Hunter in center.
Jason Kubel, who took over as the regular left fielder when Stewart got hurt the first time in late May, is fighting sore knees and can't run full speed. Kubel and backup catcher Mike Redmond were the only two available bench players Sunday, with corner infielder Terry Tiffee away after the birth of his twin boys.
"We're in dire straits right now," manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game.
Both Hunter and Stewart had MRI tests done Sunday morning. Stewart's revealed an aggravation of a previous incomplete tear of the plantar fascia tissue in his left foot, according to the team. Hunter's showed a stress fracture in the fourth metatarsal, one of the long bones that extends from heel to toe.
Hunter, whose 2005 season ended two months early when he broke a bone near his left ankle while trying to make a catch in center field at Boston, left Saturday night's game after two innings. Until Sunday, he was out of the lineup only once, despite playing with persistent soreness in that foot this year.
His absence was undoubtedly the biggest blow for Minnesota, which missed Hunter's leadership dearly after the injury last season. He's batting .269 with 14 homers and 49 RBI.