MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins knew they would need extra pitching depth this season, though perhaps they didn’t know they’d need to tap into this many of their depth options this soon.
It started even before the season started, when the Twins put Jake Odorizzi on the injured list with upper back soreness. Then they pushed Rich Hill back from the second game of the season to the fifth to give him a couple extra days of rest. This weekend, Homer Bailey was pushed back and then put on the injured list with a case of biceps tendinitis.
And Monday, when the Twins announced their upcoming pitchers for this week, Hill notably wasn’t listed.
After dazzling in his first start of the season, throwing five scoreless innings, manager Rocco Baldelli said Hill felt “a little fatigued,” and was “probably a little behind getting ready to make his next start,” after feeling a bit of mild upper back soreness.
Hill is not scheduled to pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who the Twins have three more games against this week. No date has been set yet for his return to the mound, though Baldelli said he was playing catch on the field on Monday, Aug. 3, and is doing OK.
“We’re going to keep checking on him, monitoring him and seeing when he’s going to get into the bullpen. But he’s still throwing the ball and feels alright,” Baldelli said. “That being said, we’re going to keep taking every opportunity we can to keep our guys fresh and feeling good, and when our guys take the mound, we want them ready to go. That’s what this is all about.”
Odorizzi is also not scheduled to pitch against the Pirates this week, though he did throw 52 pitches against hitters at CHS Field with four up-downs and came away from it feeling good. Pitching coach Wes Johnson made the trip to St. Paul to watch him throw.
“I could see Odo falling into the rotation after we wrap up with the Pirates and we get in there to play against the Royals,” Baldelli said. “That’s a very realistic option for us.”
With Hill, Bailey and Odorizzi among those sidelined amid a rash of pitching injuries across the league after a shorter ramp-up period, the Twins will send Jose Berrios, Randy Dobnak and Kenta Maeda to the mound against the Pirates this week.
“Their routines change from everything they’ve been used to doing. So with all of that taken into account, we knew that depth in a year like this was going to be very, very important, both position-player wise and pitching wise. So no, I’m not really surprised that we are and teams throughout the league are being tested, that’s for sure,” Baldelli said.
The Twins welcomed back former bench coach Derek Shelton — who coached for them in the 2018-19 seasons — with a photo montage on the scoreboard during batting practice and a bottle of bourbon.
Baldelli teased the possibility of some images of Shelton on the scoreboard, and sure enough, a whole collection of the new Pirates manager played on a loop starting at the end of the Twins’ batting practice and continuing through the Pirates’. It included photos of Shelton sticking out his tongue and throwing up peace signs, among other things.
Baldelli and Shelton have long been friends, previously serving together on the Tampa Bay Rays’ coaching staff before reuniting in Minnesota.
“I don’t know how a couple of people in the spots that we’re in could probably connect more often,” Baldelli said. “Sometimes it’s hard, and we know that with the schedules. But we talk all the time. Baseball-side of it, non-baseball side of it, just checking in.”
Baldelli said that he expects third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf) to join the Twins on the road. “I’m almost positive of that, but we’ll confirm that before tomorrow,” he said.
The Twins selected the contract of reliever Caleb Thielbar, a Northfield, Minn., native, and optioned LaMonte Wade Jr.
The Detroit Tigers/St. Louis Cardinals four-game series in Detroit has been postponed after the Cardinals’ COVID-19 outbreak has reached 13 members of the team’s traveling party. The Cardinals last played on Wednesday against the Twins.