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Jeffers' first HR no cheapie; Odorizzi update

@dohyoungpark
September 8, 2020

Just look at all the size packed in Ryan Jeffers' 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, and it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the ball can really jump off his bat. It took two and a half weeks for him to find that power in a game, but it sure

Just look at all the size packed in Ryan Jeffers' 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, and it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the ball can really jump off his bat.

It took two and a half weeks for him to find that power in a game, but it sure was impressive when he finally got a hold of a ball for his first career homer on Monday. It sure wasn't a cheap one, as Statcast estimated the blast at 437 feet to straightaway center field. He later added an opposite-field RBI single for his first multi-RBI game as a big leaguer, showing off a well-rounded offensive game that he hopes will define him more than just his power.

"For me, I've always been kind of an all-around hitter," Jeffers said. "I try and limit my strikeouts and hit for average, but I still obviously want to hit the ball out of the ballpark every time I go up there. As a guy my size, obviously I have the power and the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. So I go up there and I'm trying to hit the ball as hard as I can every time."

Jeffers, the Twins' No. 6 prospect, was told to focus primarily on his defense when he first came up on Aug. 20 to serve as the primary catcher in Mitch Garver's absence. Anything on the offensive side would just be an added bonus.

The 23-year-old has immediately showed a comfort with his pitching staff and the advanced receiving skills behind the plate that had the Twins so high on his potential as he made a quick rise through the organization following his selection in the 2018 MLB Draft. At first, Jeffers said he would pester Garver and Alex Avila with questions just about every day, but he's quickly found a comfort level in his game preparation.

The skills with the bat have quickly followed, and Jeffers entered Tuesday's seven-inning twin bill with a .265/.324/.353 slash line, more than respectable for a rookie catcher thrown into the heart of a playoff chase.

"I think, for me, it was just getting those first ones coming up and then just starting to settle in here, just starting to settle in with the everyday playing time, finding that rhythm day in and day out to take care of the pitchers," Jeffers said. "Because that's probably my biggest priority, is to handle the pitching staff and then the offense comes after that and you start to settle down."

Odorizzi nearly ready as Twins face roster crunch
Jake Odorizzi will throw once more at the Twins' alternate training site in St. Paul, Minn., before he could rejoin the club sometime in mid-September, manager Rocco Baldelli said. Odorizzi last threw around 60 pitches at CHS Field on Saturday.

The All-Star right-hander is well on track to return from the chest contusion he sustained when he was struck by a comebacker in Kansas City on Aug. 21, but his return will leave Baldelli and his staff with some tough decisions as to how to manage their pitching staff, with as many as seven starting options possibly available if Homer Bailey also returns when eligible on Sunday.

"We're getting into a spot where we have a lot of guys we can lean on," Baldelli said. "You always get in these positions where you go, 'Oh, man, are you going to have too many starters? Are you going to have too many guys to get in there?' Could that be the case? Yeah. And then we'll have to get creative when that does get to us."

There's little question that Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda will continue to pitch in their normal rotation slots, and Opening Day starter José Berríos should also have a guaranteed spot, especially in light of his recent success. Randy Dobnak remains among the Majors' wins leaders and has only had one bad start all season. Rich Hill has been hit-or-miss and has struggled at times with his command, but he has, by far, the most established playoff track record of the group.

Odorizzi showed a flash of the dominance that led to the only successful playoff start for the Twins in last season's American League Division Series, but injuries have otherwise derailed his season.

At minimum, if everyone stays healthy, it's a good problem for Baldelli and his staff to have.

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