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Regular-season return appears unlikely for Twins pitcher Tyler Mahle

The Twins have not completely shut the door on a return, but manager Rocco Baldelli said Tuesday that Mahle has not started throwing yet, nearly 10 days after he landed on the injured list for the

Tyler Mahle
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Tyler Mahle throws against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Just two days after the Minnesota Twins traded for pitcher Tyler Mahle, manager Rocco Baldelli was asked if he felt confident that the shoulder issue that forced Mahle to the injured list in July with Cincinnati was minor.

“I haven’t had any conversations about it whatsoever,” Baldelli said at the time. “This is baseball and things can always happen, and you can only prepare so much for certain things. But we think he’s in a good spot.”

Four starts later — two of which were cut short — and it appears Mahle’s regular season is over.

The Twins have not completely shut the door on a return, but Baldelli said Tuesday that Mahle has not started throwing yet, nearly 10 days after he landed on the injured list for the second time in a month, and with the calendar dwindling, it seems as if he will run out of time.

Twins-mugs-Tyler-Mahle.png
Tyler Mahle

Mahle left his third start with the Twins after a dramatic dip in his velocity, which landed him on the injured list. At the time, he said he didn’t feel pain in his shoulder. After a trip to the injured list, Mahle returned and immediately was forced out of action early again. The Twins placed him on the IL again the next day with shoulder inflammation.

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“The scenarios that Tyler pitches again in the regular season might be pretty limited right now,” Baldelli said. “I do think that there are some scenarios where he actually does still pitch for us this year, but we do have to make those games relevant is what we have to do, and then I think we have a chance.”

But since they’re preparing as if they’re going to be playing important games into October — the regular season concludes on Oct. 5 — Baldelli said all of the guys, Mahle included, that have the possibility of coming back within the next week, two or six, have to prepare as if they’re working towards that.

While a return for their big trade deadline acquisition feels unlikely, Baldelli listed a group of players he does believe will return within the next few weeks, starting with second baseman Jorge Polanco (knee). Polanco, he said, he could see being activated from the IL at some point this week.

The Twins still expect center fielder Byron Buxton (knee, hip) to play again this season, and no one player’s return would be more impactful than his. Buxton, he said, is on track to return sometime after Polanco.

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Pitcher Bailey Ober (groin) is “fairly close” to coming back, Baldelli said, and that could be later this week. Ober, who has been out since early June, started a rehab game for the Saints on Sunday. Trevor Larnach (core muscle) and Ryan Jeffers (thumb) also have started getting in games, Baldelli said, in Fort Myers, Fla., and have been getting at-bats. Larnach’s return has been slowed a bit as “cutting it loose and throwing and moving around in the outfield in an unrestricted manner … definitely took more out of him or were a little more challenging than we originally thought.”

While the Twins have slid in the AL Central standings — after getting swept by the first-place Guardians in a three-game series over the weekend, they went into Tuesday’s game against the Royals trailing Cleveland by five games in the division — they’re hopeful that the return of some impact players can help give them a boost in the final weeks of the season.

“They’re all going to be important games from here on out,” Baldelli said. “… You’ve got to find ways to do a few different things. We also have some players, hopefully, coming back soon, too, so you combine elevating what we’re doing here on a daily basis, which we have to do, and we know that. We have to play complete baseball games, but on top of that, hopefully some of the guys coming back will help us as well.”

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