MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Twins near mathematical elimination from playoff contention, they have all the more reason to give their injured players all the time they need to get fully healthy before next season. With that in mind, manager Rocco Baldelli confirmed on Friday that Taylor Rogers will not pitch again in 2021, and Randy Dobnak is also likely to be done for the year.
Both pitchers are dealing with similar injuries, with Rogers on the injured list due to a left middle finger sprain and Dobnak sidelined once again with a right middle finger strain, which Baldelli specified as involving a full tear of the A4 pulley in the finger after Dobnak met with a hand specialist, Dr. Thomas Graham, in Cleveland on Thursday.
For now, Baldelli said the Twins don't anticipate the need for surgery for either player.
"These injuries are going to have to heal over on their own," Baldelli said. "Those things take a little time. Some of these injuries don’t linger very long at all. Some of them do. Sometimes, and many times, again, the players are able to avoid procedures just because the scar tissue heals over and then they ramp up and they don’t feel the pain any more. It sounds unusual."
Rogers hasn't pitched since July 26 when he sustained the injury amid an All-Star campaign. Though Baldelli said there are still minor lingering symptoms in the left-hander's finger, the Twins still plan for Rogers to start playing catch soon and hope to ramp him up to throwing a bullpen session before the end of the season.
"I just think that will allow us to learn more about how his offseason is going to go, give him some confidence going forward to be able to be able to throw and pitch with this finger pulley thing that he is dealing with," Baldelli said.
Dobnak made one start on Sept. 3 following two and a half months on the IL due to a partial tear of the A4 pulley but was scratched from his planned Thursday start in Cleveland after feeling an issue during catch play on Wednesday. The Twins will continue to evaluate his symptoms and allow those to dictate his recovery.
Though this injury takes away from Dobnak's ability to regain his bearings and pitch for a role in next year's rotation following a tough start to 2021, the multi-year extension he signed last offseason means he has less to lose than other young pitchers by missing the opportunity for a few September starts.
The Twins still have enough pitchers for a six-man rotation with the recent arrivals of Joe Ryan and Andrew Albers, and Lewis Thorpe (left shoulder impingement) is set to throw a bullpen session on Saturday as part of a continued ramp-up.
Baldelli returns to Twins
Baldelli took a full four-game series away from the Twins to be with wife Allie and newborn daughter Louisa in Minneapolis, but even while he left the team in the capable hands of Major League coach Bill Evers, Allie pushed to keep up with what was happening in Cleveland.
"Allie really wanted to watch the game," Baldelli said. "So she told me, 'Put the TV on. The game is coming on.' I know the times of the games were a little different in Cleveland and the time change and all that, so we would put them on. We watched, I would say, most of the games when we weren't doing other things or having doctors and nurses in the room."
From there, he watched the Twins pitch well for most of a four-game series and take three of those contests against Cleveland, and he'd check in briefly with folks around the team a few times a day. It was an eventful few days, too, as Louisa's first taste of Twins baseball involved a few Miguel Sanó homers and Ryan's near-perfect game on Wednesday.
And not that Baldelli was keeping track, but a sweep of the four-game series would have made for an interesting milestone footnote in Baldelli's career, as all of those wins and losses while he was away from the team still went on his ledger. A win in Thursday's series finale would have marked the 200th of Baldelli's career -- celebrated while he was away from the team.
The Twins didn't reach that in his absence, but he still considers that time away very much a win.
"Some of the best days of my life," Baldelli said. "That's kind of the way that I feel about it. There's been a lot happening. ... Everyone is well, and it's nice to be back at the ballpark. The team did some really nice work and Bill did some fantastic work while I was away. So that was fun to watch, too."