Notes: Maeda (groin) on IL; Cruz, Polanco

May 23rd, 2021

One day after was pulled after only 73 pitches in his start against Cleveland, the Twins placed the right-hander on the 10-day injured list with a right adductor strain, another tough injury setback for an already beat-up team.

The Twins recalled infielder from Triple-A St. Paul in a corresponding move to help with their middle-infield depth challenges.

Maeda had originally hoped to play through the tightness and pain in his groin, but he noted after his Saturday start that he had to modify his pitching mechanics to accommodate the issue, and his average fastball velocity was down to a season-low 89.6 mph -- more than 3 mph lower than where it was on Opening Day.

"I think it’s certainly something that he could have kept pitching, but he’s not healthy right now," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think this is definitely something that’s the right move. It’s going to give him an opportunity to get strong and also his stuff has been down, most likely related to what he’s dealing with."

The Twins have noted that this is an issue that has flared up at points throughout Maeda's career, initially giving them confidence that he might be able to pitch through it. He had his start against Cleveland pushed back by a day but still felt the effects of the injury as he took the mound.

"The velocity's down, and he even mentioned he had to come up with some, a few adjustments with this split," Baldelli said. "They seemed like good adjustments yesterday, but he was doing a few different things, some very minor things, but things he was doing to compensate. We don't want him compensating. We want him to be able to go out there and pitch."

The lingering groin issue could provide some explanation as to why Maeda has struggled with his pitch execution throughout the season, leading to a 5.27 ERA and regressions in his strikeout and walk rates through nine starts. But Maeda insisted that these recent troubles only started to flare up two starts ago, against Oakland.

Randy Dobnak will pitch in Maeda's rotation spot as the Twins await Maeda's recovery from what they described as a "mild strain."

Cruz, Polanco out of lineup again

Both Nelson Cruz and Jorge Polanco were out of the Twins' starting lineup for a third straight day on Sunday due to their respective injuries -- left wrist soreness for Cruz and right ankle soreness for Polanco.

Baldelli said that Cruz was improved in his swinging on Sunday but was still feeling some lingering effects of his Thursday hit-by-pitch on his follow-throughs. Polanco is still not participating in baseball activities after receiving a cortisone injection in his ankle on Saturday. The Twins are hoping to have more direction as to Polanco's immediate future by Monday.

"It does feel like there’s more guys on our roster that are significantly banged up than not right now," Baldelli said. "Every day, it’s kind of something that we work down through a half-dozen guys and see who’s OK to play and who is available."

Though Luis Arraez was back in the starting lineup on Sunday after sustaining right shoulder tightness on a stolen-base attempt during Saturday's game, it was important for the Twins to get Gordon on the roster due to their razor-thin middle-infield depth. If Arraez hadn't been able to stay in Saturday's game, they likely would have needed to move catcher Willians Astudillo to second base.

Sanó has some fun with first-base coach Tommy Watkins

When 272 pounds of Miguel Sanó comes barreling in your general direction, it's hard to blame you for clearing his path -- but Sanó had little sympathy for first-base coach Tommy Watkins on Saturday.

When Josh Naylor hit a high popup towards the Twins' dugout on the first-base side, Sanó raced over and made the snag mere steps in front of the entrance. After moving out of the way, Watkins came over to Sanó late and tried to help him keep his balance.

Sanó responded by soundly smacking Watkins in the batting helmet.

"Hey, be careful! Be careful!" Sanó remembered Watkins telling him.

"You're supposed to help me!" the slugger responded.