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Twins reflect on Skaggs: 'A really good person'

July 2, 2019

OAKLAND -- Blake Parker and Mike Morin weren't ready to talk to the media about Tyler Skaggs. C.J. Cron didn't feel ready to talk about his close friend, either. But he knew he had to. "I don't necessarily want to talk, but I feel like I owe the man some

OAKLAND -- Blake Parker and Mike Morin weren't ready to talk to the media about Tyler Skaggs. C.J. Cron didn't feel ready to talk about his close friend, either. But he knew he had to.

"I don't necessarily want to talk, but I feel like I owe the man some time," Cron said with tears in his eyes.

The news of Skaggs' sudden passing hit the Twins' clubhouse hard. Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his Southlake, Texas, hotel room on Monday. Cron and Skaggs had spent four years together with the Angels from 2014-17. Parker had been his Angels teammate for two years. Morin had also been a teammate on those Angels teams from 2014-17. Cron and Parker had been at Skaggs' wedding to his wife, Carli, just last offseason.

"We have several guys that didn’t just know Tyler Skaggs, but were very, very close with him," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I don’t think this is something the baseball community ever gets over when something like this happens. I think it stays with you for a very long time. All you can do is be there for the people that were there with Tyler Skaggs who have had relationships with him."

Cron and Skaggs had recently gotten breakfast together when the Twins played in Anaheim in late May, and still texted regularly. As he mustered the courage to serve as a spokesman to reporters, tears welled in Cron's eyes and his voice broke as he searched for the words to recognize his friend and teammate.

"He was a good teammate," Cron said. "One of the guys. One of the core pieces of that team. It's crazy the bonds you kind of create in the clubhouse, you know? We're with these dudes from February until October. They become your brothers. He was a really good dude, man."

The Angels and Rangers played as scheduled on Tuesday at Globe Life Park, where pitchers Andrew Heaney and Cam Bedrosian carried Skaggs' jersey out with them for the moment of silence in the 27-year-old's honor. Cron's heart was with his former teammates as they grieved together.

"It's one of those things where the more texts you get, the more upset you feel," Cron said. "I didn't really want to be a burden to those guys, but I did send out a group text maybe an hour ago telling them how much I miss them and that my heart's with them. I'm sure that today is going to be emotional, as you can tell, for everybody. I hope they handle it a little bit better than I am. I hope they'll honor him well."

Nelson Cruz had recently joined Skaggs in a visit to sick children at a hospital in the Anaheim area, and Skaggs had also visited Twin Cities-area hospitals with Angels teammates, Morin, Twins first-base coach Tommy Watkins and former pitcher Glen Perkins. Skaggs, a big Vikings fan, had also been ecstatic at the time for the opportunity to meet with Kirk Cousins and other Vikings players before a game at Target Field.

"I got a chance to go and visit the hospitals in Anaheim and got to know the type of heart he has," Cruz said. "He cared about kids and what impressed me the most was he was always the first one to go ahead and talk to the kids. He got the door open. I was always behind him. That speaks pretty highly of him."

"What you see is what you get," Cron said. "He's a big competitor. He's a really good dude, on and off the field. He was a pleasure to be around. Just a really good person, man."

Mejia reinstated after lengthy stint on injured list

The Twins brought up another fresh arm for their bullpen on Tuesday, reinstating left-hander Adalberto Mejía from the 60-day injured list following the completion of a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola. Mejia had been placed on the 10-day injured list on May 2 with a right calf strain before he was later moved to the 60-day IL.

Mejia had a 8.74 ERA with 11 strikeouts and nine walks in 11 1/3 innings before he was sidelined with the injury. The Twins worked with Mejia to tweak his mechanics to improve the action and consistency of his breaking ball, and it showed, at least on the stat sheet, during Mejia's rehab assignment.

In six scoreless rehab outings, the 26-year-old left-hander had 10 strikeouts and one walk and only allowed four hits.

"I'm proud for the road I took to be back here, and I'm thankful to the coaching staff and my teammates for giving me the chance," Mejia said. "I'm looking forward to putting [forth] the things I've learned and practiced throughout this time down there."

"This is a guy who has thrown strikes and has always had good stuff," Baldelli said. "The last time around, there were some periods of time where he was a little erratic here and there. But really tightening it up to where when you call on him, you know exactly what you are going to get, and what you want is for him to command the ball around the zone with that good stuff."

Pitching coach Wes Johnson said that the work on Mejia's mechanics essentially involved him rearing back more in his delivery to get his front side "taller" during his motion, which they feel will add consistency to both his command and movement.

"We needed to get him a little taller [on his] front side," Johnson said. "We knew when that happened, he was really consistent, and quite frankly, he was a little flatter and lower. His results were a little more inconsistent. When he had the injury, it was a time where we were like, 'OK, we need to get this going.'"

Baldelli said he wasn't entirely sure about what Mejia's role in the bullpen would look like, but both he and Johnson hope that the big left-hander will throw strikes and attack the plate.

Rosario improving quickly

Eddie Rosario is making quick progress in his recovery from a left ankle sprain sustained on June 26 and he shouldn't need much more than the minimum 10 days to be in position to return to action, according to Baldelli. With that said, Rosario is eligible to return from the injured list on July 7, the final game before the All-Star break, making it likely that the Twins let him rest through the break.

"Everything that we’ve thrown at him, he’s handled it and more," Baldelli said.

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