FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Amid all the bustle of a workout day before the start of Grapefruit League play, one player quietly stood off to the side, arms draped over the padding of the fence, his eyes fixed on Alex Colomé and Kenta Maeda as they faced hitters from the stadium mound.
That's newly acquired right-hander Shaun Anderson, who put a cap on over his flowing golden hair and made his way over to the stadium sideline -- because his work schedule was over for the day, but there was still learning to be done. Anderson had already watched Colomé during the veteran's bullpen session earlier in the afternoon, and he wanted to make sure to catch how the former closer's work translated to facing hitters.
"[Colomé is] really diligent in how he does his work," Anderson remarked. "I think we have really similar breaking balls, so I wanted to see how he set guys up -- lefties and righties, and just watching his approach and taking it out to the game."
It's a good thing that it was Maeda's day to throw, too, because he's next up to watch on Anderson's list due to his mastery of the split changeup. Anderson is trying to incorporate a splitter into his arsenal for the first time this season, and he sees no better person to ask for advice than the reigning Cy Young Award runner-up.
"He's the next guy I want to talk to and pick his brain," Anderson said. "I was actually watching him in the bullpen as well, and, man, that pitch is so good. It's been so good for so long. I want to talk to him about that. Just seeing his intent behind it, because I feel like intent is so good for that pitch."
Anderson broke out in a way with his 3.52 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 15.1 innings out of the Giants' bullpen last season, but the changeup had never really worked for him, so he's worked this offseason to replace it with a splitter that he can throw harder. The idea came as a result of discussions with former Giants teammate Kevin Gausman, who threw the splitter 42.2 percent of the time last season.
Anderson has never thrown the pitch in a game and hopes to see how it will play when he takes the mound on Monday against Tampa Bay. The Twins' bullpen picture is crowded, but manager Rocco Baldelli noted that the 26-year-old Anderson could be part of that competition following his acquisition in a trade with San Francisco. Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Colomé, Hansel Robles, Cody Stashak, Jorge Alcala and Caleb Thielbar appear likely to make the Opening Day roster, but there could still be some opportunity due to injury or otherwise.
"Our entire staff, myself included, will be watching him very closely in every way," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "A guy with that kind of ability, you need to always pay attention to so we’re going to be doing that and I think he could certainly figure into our bullpen plans going forward."
Happ (COVID-19) could return to team in "near future"
Left-hander J.A. Happ has missed the first week of camp due to an asymptomatic case of COVID-19, but the Twins plan to bring him to the club's facility on Monday to put him through the screening process with the hope that he can take the next step in the return-to-play protocol.
"Overall, I think he's doing well and he's going to be ready to start, get back out there being on his feet in the near future," Baldelli said.
The Twins signed the 38-year-old Happ to a one-year, $8 million deal before the season to fill a rotation slot, and Baldelli still hopes that the veteran will be able to ramp up for the first week of the regular season, which remains more than a month away. Happ has been able to stay in "pretty good throwing shape," Baldelli said, and the club appears encouraged in his ability to make a seamless transition into regular activity.
Lewis undergoes successful knee procedure
The Twins announced that No. 1 prospect Royce Lewis underwent successful reconstruction surgery on his right knee Friday afternoon at the Mayo Clinic to repair the torn ACL that was discovered during the Spring Training intake process. The procedure was conducted by Dr. Christopher Camp, the club's orthopedic surgeon.
There's not yet any more clarity as to the specifics of Lewis' recovery timeline beyond the originally stated estimate of nine to 12 months, but he's expected to spend a few days in the Twin Cities to recover before he returns to Fort Myers to begin his rehab process.
"We just want to get him in a good place where he regains his strength and get him back down to Fort Myers and get back to work," Baldelli said. "That’s the goal. But it was very good to hear that the surgery went just as planned."