CLEVELAND -- After further examination on Wednesday, left-hander Adalberto Mejia's strained left wrist suffered in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Indians wasn't deemed serious, and there's a chance he could make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Tigers.Mejia allowed one hit over five scoreless innings on Tuesday, but
CLEVELAND -- After further examination on Wednesday, left-hander Adalberto Mejia's strained left wrist suffered in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Indians wasn't deemed serious, and there's a chance he could make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Tigers.
Mejia allowed one hit over five scoreless innings on Tuesday, but came out of the game after feeling pain in his left wrist that radiated up the outside of his arm on his last pitch. But he felt better after the game and it continued to improve on Wednesday. The Twins were hoping for more clarity Wednesday, but Mejia will throw long toss on Thursday and a bullpen session on Friday before Minnesota determines whether he's healthy enough to start Sunday.
"He's doing better today," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "[Head trainer] Tony Leo has asked to buy a little more time. He's really encouraged about the opportunity for him to go ahead and throw on Sunday. But the day after, you are not going to do much. We are going to buy a little bit more time than the original 24 hours that we talked about."
Mejia has pitched well this season, posting a 2.01 ERA with 13 strikeouts, nine walks and one homer allowed in 22 1/3 innings. But if he can't go, right-hander Fernando Romero is scheduled to start for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday and could be recalled. Lefty Stephen Gonsalves, Minnesota's No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is lined up to start Thursday for Rochester.
Romero threw eight scoreless innings for Rochester, striking out eight and scattering four hits on Sunday, but it technically came in relief after reliever Alan Busenitz started the game but allowed three runs in the first.
"They used the 'opener' in that game, so you look at the numbers and read the report," Molitor said. "The attacking, the command of all his pitches. He's always on your radar as a guy you can dip down and get if you need someone."
Twins experimenting with 'opener' strategy in Minors
As Molitor noted, the Twins have been trying out the "opener" strategy at both Double-A and Triple-A, with relievers starting games based on matchups and getting followed by a traditional starter, who usually bridges the gap to more relievers -- or, in Romero's case, finishes the game. At Double-A, the Twins have even implemented batters-faced limits, with the "long reliever" slated to pitch to exactly 18 batters, or two times through the order to avoid the penalty that statistics have shown comes with facing a lineup for a third time.
Using an "opener" is a strategy the Rays have utilized in the Majors this season since May 19, and they have the fourth-best ERA in baseball over that stretch, although they don't use it every game.
"I think there's enough curiosity for us to see how it plays," Molitor said. "There are lot of factors on who you are going to open and it depends on who you're going to follow. What constitutes the other team's lineup as far as if it's left/right, all those types of things. This thing has a chance to pick up legs across the game, but you know, as we get more data in return, you can't argue with Tampa's success. That's for sure."
Molitor credited farm director Jeremy Zoll for implementing the idea, but senior analyst Josh Kalk certainly had a role, as he came over from the Rays' organization this offseason and is considered a pioneer and an expert in pitching analytics.
Molitor said he hasn't been pressured to utilize it in the Majors, but did say it's been discussed and wouldn't rule it out this season. Reliever Trevor May has experience starting, as does lefty Taylor Rogers and righty Matt Magill. Right-hander Michael Pineda is also expected to return from Tommy John surgery and could be an option, as well.
"I don't know that I'd put a number on it, but it wouldn't surprise me if we did it," Molitor said. "We've had discussions about up here. We're seeing how it's playing down there. I don't know if we'll get to that situation and do it by the end of the year or not. So yeah, like everything that involves change in this game, we're more than willing to look at and see if it's something for us to do."
Buxton hits in the cages
Center fielder Byron Buxton, on the Minor League disabled list with a left wrist sprain, progressed to hitting indoors on Tuesday and Wednesday, which is slightly ahead of schedule. He's not expected to return to Triple-A Rochester until next week, as Buxton needs to continue to test the wrist, which has bothered him since mid-July and has seen him placed on the DL twice.
"I think the hard part with this injury, from what I can understand and from some personal history, is that you take your normal swing during BP or off the tee or flips, you're not getting fooled," Molitor said. "It's not having to start and stop and check swings. I think that's when these things get aggravated. Those are tough to simulate in a practice environment."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.