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Pineda goes on IL as preventive measure

Left-hander Smeltzer called up to start vs. Brewers
@dohyoungpark
May 28, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins placed starting pitcher Michael Pineda on the 10-day injured list with right knee tendinitis on Tuesday, but manager Rocco Baldelli said the move wasn't linked to any specific injury and was instead a preventative measure to help Pineda get some time to address a "maintenance issue"

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins placed starting pitcher Michael Pineda on the 10-day injured list with right knee tendinitis on Tuesday, but manager Rocco Baldelli said the move wasn't linked to any specific injury and was instead a preventative measure to help Pineda get some time to address a "maintenance issue" he and the team had discussed for some time.

Pineda will continue with his arm program and throwing while he is on the injured list. Baldelli said he does not foresee the issue being a long-term hindrance for the big right-hander.

"[It's] something that we knew we would have to talk about at some point," Baldelli said. "But [we’re] taking an opportunity and giving him 10-ish days to get this taken care of. ... It’s something that has been on Mike’s mind and our minds and something that we knew we would have to take care of. Once we take care of it, hopefully, it’s something that is gone after that."

Pineda suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee last August as he attempted a return to the Majors following July 2017 Tommy John surgery.

He had his fourth straight quality start Monday against the Brewers, firing 94 pitches and allowing three runs over six innings. He has allowed three earned runs in each of his last five starts after posting a 6.21 ERA through his first six appearances of the season.

"There probably is a little bit more of a preventative thought process these days than there was even 10 years ago or 15 years ago, but I think that makes a lot of sense," Baldelli said. "Again, it's a long year, and we have good Major League players here that we want to make sure stay on the field and stay on the field as healthy as possible for as long as possible."

The timing of the move actually works quite well for the Twins. Because of the two off-days coming up on each end of the four-game series at Tampa Bay, Minnesota could use a four-man rotation of Martin Pérez, José Berríos, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi twice on regular rest before needing a fifth starter again on June 7, which is when Pineda would be eligible to be activated.

In a corresponding move, the Twins selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer from Triple-A Rochester. Smeltzer, 23, made his Major League debut as Minnesota's starter against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The Twins acquired Smeltzer from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Brian Dozier to Los Angeles at last season's Trade Deadline. The left-hander, a fifth-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, had a 1.15 ERA, 48 strikeouts and 10 walks in nine starts with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester this season.

"He’s a guy that I’ve been looking forward to seeing throw in person," Baldelli said. "Obviously, he’s been performing very, very well at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. It’s very impressive for a guy that started out probably on a different sort of radar, not in big league camp, starting out in a different place and earning his way here in such a short period of time."

Smeltzer is a survivor of pelvic rhabdomyosarcoma, a bladder cancer that was diagnosed when he was 9 years old. He has credited baseball for aiding in his recovery by helping him stay active -- the cancer was sent into full remission in 2012 -- and maintains a "Catch Cancer Looking" campaign that benefits Katie's Krusaders, an organization that covers the out-of-pocket expenses for pediatric cancer patients.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.