The Twins announced Wednesday night that veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi will begin the season on the 10-day injured list due to mild upper back soreness. The injury is not serious, and Odorizzi is not expected to require much longer than the minimum stint on the IL.
Odorizzi skipped his final tuneup start of Summer Camp due to the ailment, which was described at the time as an intermittent soreness or tightness in his upper back. He would likely have started the second game of the regular season on Saturday against the White Sox, but Rich Hill will start in his place, with Kenta Maeda pitching as scheduled on Sunday.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Odorizzi is expected to throw a bullpen session sometime toward the end of Minnesota's season-opening series against the White Sox.
"Regardless of true definition, he's dealing with a little something, but he's still able to take part in most of his day and most of his preparation," Baldelli said. "I wouldn't expect this to linger too long."
Because Odorizzi's IL stint can be back-dated to Monday, he will be eligible to return July 30 after missing just five regular-season games. In fact, the Twins might not actually need anybody to make a spot start in Odorizzi's place due to the off-day between their season-opening series in Chicago and their home opener against the Cardinals on July 28.
That off-day could allow the Twins to only throw four starters -- José Berríos, Hill, Maeda and Homer Bailey -- in their first turn through the rotation, and Berríos could still pitch July 29 against St. Louis on a standard four days' rest. If Minnesota would prefer to get its starters an extra day of rest, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer or Lewis Thorpe could also fill in for one start.
"We're going to wait, obviously, to talk about the [Cardinals] series when we return home," Baldelli said. "Obviously, Homer is going to be in that rotation, and then we're going to also talk about what we're going to do on that fifth day a little bit more before we make the call."
Odorizzi, 30, lowered his ERA to 3.51 last season and struck out a career-high 178 hitters. He was eligible for free agency but chose to return to Minnesota by accepting the one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer.
Buxton participates in workout, expected to join team in Chicago
While just about everyone else in consideration for the Twins' Opening Day roster had their final tuneup before the regular season on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, center fielder Byron Buxton was still hundreds of miles away at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minn., as he participated in a full workout at the club's alternate training site with an eye on returning to the team by Opening Day on Friday.
Buxton is still on the mend from a left mid-foot sprain that he sustained while chasing a fly ball during an intrasquad game July 13. Baldelli said that Buxton was able to ramp up the intensity of his running on Wednesday, and that he also took swings against live pitching.
Buxton is expected to join the Twins for their season-opening series in Chicago, though his availability for Opening Day remains in question. The Twins need to finalize their 30-man roster by 11 a.m. CT Thursday.
"To finalize it, it's yet to be determined," Baldelli said. "But I think we feel pretty good about him coming over and seeing where he's at."