There’s nothing particularly wrong with Homer Bailey, his manager said Sunday, nothing that the Twins should be worried about.
Then again, this season you worry about absolutely everything.
“Homer seems like he’s very functional and feeling decent right now,” Rocco Baldelli said. “But not quite to the point where we would want to put him out there and start.”
Bailey developed a mild case of tendinitis in his pitching arm after last Tuesday’s victory over St. Louis, Baldelli said, and the team originally decided to give him an extra day of rest, and utilize the extra depth afforded by a 30-man roster, by scheduling a bullpen game for Sunday. But when Bailey’s biceps was still sore, the Twins chose to give him an extra week of rest.
Bailey went on the 10-day injured list before Sunday’s game — due to backdating, he’s eligible to return as soon as Saturday — and the Twins called up righthander Sean Poppen from their St. Paul camp.
“It didn’t resolve itself at the pace we were hoping, so we’re going to give him the time,” Baldelli said of Bailey, who limited the Cardinals to two runs over five innings in his Twins debut last week. “We’re going to let him feel better and wait a little bit before we just send him out there. We want our guys ready for the long haul.”
Poppen, a lanky Harvard alumnus whom the Twins drafted in the 14th round in 2016, appeared in four games in relief for the Twins last June and July.
Bailey’s soreness, along with a rash of pitching injuries around the league after a brief summer training camp, figures to only add to the Twins’ caution with their pitchers. Jake Odorizzi is already on the injured list with lower back soreness — he’s scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Monday, the first step toward a return — and Baldelli has yet to announce his pitching plans for this week’s four games with the Pirates.
Lewis Thorpe, who has appeared in a relief role twice so far, will start against Pittsburgh on Monday, but Baldelli hasn’t said whether Rich Hill will pitch Tuesday; the Twins are being especially careful with the 40-year-old as he recovers from elbow surgery.
Garver breaks out
The Twins hit only one home run Sunday, but it was notable for a few reasons. For one thing, Mitch Garver hit it — which clearly came as a relief to the catcher, who even pointed at the spot the ball landed as he rounded second base.
“Obviously, it’s stressful to kind of get off to a slow start,” said Garver, who entered Sunday 0-for-9 on the homestand and 2-for-15 on the season. “I just needed to get back and find my rhythm. … I’m starting to feel back to normal, and that was a pretty exciting AB [at-bat] for me.”
Garver became the 10th Twin to homer this season, more than any other AL team (and tied with the Dodgers for most in the majors). He was the first to homer on a 3-2 count, and it marked the eighth game, of nine played, in which the Twins have homered.
That Minnesota is hitting home runs is hardly a surprise, considering the Twins set the all-time single-season record of 307 last year. The Twins have homered 16 times, which also ties them with the Dodgers for most in the majors, and 24 of their 46 runs scored this year (52.2 percent) have scored on homers. Last year, 51.4 percent of their runs were driven in by homers, a franchise record.
“The goal is to hit the ball hard. But as they start to recognize more pitches in the zone — and we have fouled off some pitches that have been good pitches to hit — I think some of our guys will start finding their way on base more, as well,” said hitting coach Edgar Varela. “We have gotten the results as far as homers. One week in, it’s good to have that.”
Two-hitters, times two
The Twins two-hit Cleveland on Aug. 1 and 2 this year. The last time they had back-to-back two-hitters was also on Aug. 1 and 2 — of 1986. One big difference? The Twins used nine different pitchers (and Trevor May in both games) to do it this year; in 1986, Bert Blyleven and Mike Smithson each had complete games in two-hitting the A’s in the Metrodome.