Maeda battles extra challenge in scoreless outing

Gordon sustains ankle sprain vs. Red Sox, X-rays negative

March 4th, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Consider Kenta Maeda’s two scoreless innings in his Thursday start against the Rays to be even more impressive because, per Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, every Tampa Bay hitter that stepped to the plate had the opportunity to know exactly what pitch was coming.

According to the Twins’ skipper, home-plate umpire Brennan Miller approached him after Maeda exited his outing to inform the Minnesota dugout that, in the quiet Tropicana Field environment, he could clearly hear every pitch call emanating from catcher Tony Wolters’ headset -- meaning that, ostensibly, every Tampa Bay hitter would also be able to hear the pitch calls, loud and clear.

“The PitchCom from the system in Tony's ear was projecting significantly louder than it normally would, plus the environment wasn't especially loud, so you could hear everything,” Baldelli said. “He kind of battled throughout the outing, but a lot of the hitters, I assume, knew every pitch was coming, because the umpire knew every pitch that was coming.”

Maeda had no idea until he exited the game and Baldelli approached him with the news, having just learned it himself. Baldelli said the Twins had noticed the quality of the swings of Rays’ hitters, even against Maeda’s offspeed pitches, and Miller’s observation helped piece it together.

“We were thinking, 'Hm, maybe they're sitting on something in particular,'” Baldelli said. “Who knows? You don't know. You're just watching. But you can layer that onto whatever you watched with your own eyes. So we figured that out, but it was only after Kenta's outing. Anything can happen. It was not a loud environment today, so you could hear everything. And they could hear everything.”

Baldelli said that Maeda simply laughed when he was told in the dugout, having worked around two hits and a walk in the pair of scoreless frames. He even struck out two hitters -- a feat made doubly impressive by the circumstances.

“If anything, I got out scoreless,” Maeda said with a laugh on Friday. “If I had given up runs, I could have used it as an excuse. … Not really sure why they didn’t tell me after the first inning, but I got guys out after two innings.”

Rays skipper Kevin Cash told media on Friday that he hadn’t heard about the PitchCom snafu -- and asked if the Twins could turn the volume up even louder, per’s Brian Murphy.

Baldelli said that Wolters adjusted the volume of his earpiece after learning of the issue, and no other pitchers were impacted. Spring Training exists to iron out these little errors -- and at this point in the season, there’s no harm done.

“I'm glad it happened today and not in April at some point,” Baldelli said.

Gordon sustains left high ankle sprain

The Twins believe that they’ve avoided significant injury with infielder Nick Gordon, who sustained a “mild to moderate” high ankle sprain while tumbling to the ground as part of a throw to first base during the first inning of the Twins’ 9-4 loss to the Red Sox on Friday at Hammond Stadium.

X-rays of Gordon’s ankle did not reveal any fractures, but Gordon was in a boot and crutches in the clubhouse following the game. The Twins will wait to establish a timeline until they see how Gordon recovers in the coming days -- but Baldelli said that, “bare minimum,” Gordon will be out of action through Monday’s off-day.

“There’s a wide range of outcomes here, but from what we’ve seen, it doesn’t look like a severe case,” Baldelli said. “But that could still mean a little time off his feet.”

Gordon was playing second base on Friday, and he’s expected to serve as key depth around all infield and outfield positions coming off a breakout season during which he hit .272/.316/.427 with nine homers and 28 doubles. With Opening Day still nearly four weeks away, Gordon has plenty of time to recover -- but if necessary, Trevor Larnach would likely be next up on the depth chart.