Jorge López 'thankful' to be able to take time for mental health

July 4th, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- was grateful for the chance to step away from game action for his mental health -- and the veteran reliever is equally grateful to be back on the Twins’ roster when he was activated from the injured list on Tuesday after missing the minimum 15 days.

“I've felt ready since the first day,” López said. “Just something out of whack, I'll say. I got off the line a little bit. I recognized that. Good thing I got some help, and like I said, I really appreciate what the team's been doing, what the staff's been doing. I couldn't be more thankful for it. They just want me to be there and be good. That's all I want to do, and that's what I'm trying to pay back to them.”

López had previously described being unable to control the negative emotions and frustrations of difficult outings at times, and he said he will continue to see a therapist moving forward. He and the Twins determined together that it was best for both the right-hander and for the team for López to return on Tuesday.

In addition to the mental reset, López stayed on a regular throwing schedule and remained fresh by throwing live batting practice sessions, during which he said he tried to address inconsistencies with his release point that may have led to his on-field struggles before his time away.

“There was nothing else we felt we absolutely needed to see,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And Jorge also thinks he’s in a good spot right now, too. I’m in agreement. So here he is and I’m glad he’s back.”

The Twins will ease López back into more pressure-filled situations, Baldelli said, and if they can get him back to the healthy, effective version of the onetime Baltimore closer that the Twins acquired at last season’s Trade Deadline, it would be a significant boost to a very depleted leverage corps of the bullpen.

However, their priority was in making sure the right-hander had the support and resources he needed as he became the fourth MLB player to step away for mental health reasons this season, joining Austin Meadows, Daniel Bard and Trevor May. And as López wore his easy smile while donning glasses and an American flag bandana on Tuesday, he clearly felt that was the case.

“These 15 days, they were something really good for me, to take advantage to be here today and be back to where I want to be,” López said. “I'm just glad to be back with the team.”