Odorizzi likely to return on upcoming trip
MINNEAPOLIS -- Both outfielder Max Kepler and catcher Mitch Garver appear to be set for quick returns to the Twins' lineup, and pitcher Jake Odorizzi could also bolster the starting rotation in the near future.
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said on Saturday that Odorizzi is expected to return to the Twins at some point on this upcoming road trip through Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field.
Odorizzi threw around 80 pitches over five innings in a simulated start at the alternate training site on Friday in St. Paul, Minn., Falvey said. The All-Star right-hander has been working there for more than a week as he recovers from a chest contusion sustained in Kansas City on Aug. 21.
The Twins have named three of their starters for the upcoming four-game tilt against the first-place White Sox, with an empty slot for the third game on Wednesday. Odorizzi could make that start on four days' rest if he's ready.
Falvey and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that they've discussed the idea of a six-man rotation and that of "piggybacking" two of their starters upon Odorizzi's return, which would give the Twins six game-ready starters in José Berríos, Randy Dobnak, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Michael Pineda and Odorizzi. They also expect Homer Bailey to return before the end of the season as a seventh starter, further complicating the picture and giving the Twins a wealth of options to evaluate heading into the playoffs.
"Every guy’s going to have different strengths and abilities to help in different ways," Baldelli said. "It’s not really a clear answer as far as how it works for any of our guys at this moment, but we’re going to continue to line that up and think about it."
Kepler (left adductor strain) and Garver (right intercostal strain) have experienced strong progress in St. Paul. Kepler has been playing in intrasquad contests for several days, according to Falvey, and is expected to return to the club as soon as Sunday, when he is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list.
Falvey also said that Garver has "turned a corner" in the last five to seven days after an extended period of recovery from the intercostal strain sustained on a swing, which sent him to the IL on Aug. 20. Garver caught a full starter's workload on Friday and could return to the team "pretty soon," per Falvey.
Twins wear No. 21 in honor of Clemente
While the rest of Major League Baseball celebrated Roberto Clemente Day on Wednesday and several players across the league wore No. 21 jerseys to commemorate the Hall of Famer's contributions to the game, the Twins' unique schedule forced them to delay their celebration of Clemente's legacy to Saturday.
Nelson Cruz and Puerto Rico natives Eddie Rosario and Berríos all wore No. 21 jerseys in Clemente's honor during the 8-4 victory over Cleveland.
Because the Twins and Cardinals rescheduled their Wednesday game as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday, Minnesota had rare consecutive off-days on Wednesday and Thursday. The Twins also did not celebrate Clemente on Friday, when clubs around the league paid tribute to the lives lost in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
That pushed the date to Saturday -- but better late than never.
"I thought that I wasn't going to be able to wear it," Rosario said. "I felt a little sad that I saw my fellow Puerto Ricans around the league wearing it during that week when it happened, when it was supposed to happen. However, it doesn't really matter anymore. I wore it today. It's still an honor to represent Roberto and that number, as well."
It worked out pretty well for Rosario, who was excited that he was able to hit a homer on Saturday night wearing the jersey number of one of his island's most revered sons.
"It's an honor as a Puerto Rican first," Rosario said. "He's our idol. He's someone that did a lot of good things for the game. He's an idol for all Puerto Ricans down there on our island. I think I'm going to keep this jersey forever."