Bailey Ober had a medical excuse for skipping leg day. For a week at least.
"There's no strenuous lower-body exercises," the Twins pitcher explained of his right groin injury. "… I lifted upper body the whole week just to keep me sane. So I can sweat a little bit and not go crazy."
Ober has been on the injured list since June 6, his second stay after being out from April 30-May 21 for the same injury. He's one of many Twins starters to miss starts because of injury or illness, with only Chris Archer as the literal last man standing.
Ober's two injuries are likely related. He first went down after leaving his fourth start early on April 28. He returned for three games, most recently going six innings in Detroit on June 6.
"I had no symptoms when I was throwing. I mean, I'm assuming I was probably compensating just because the body does coming back from an injury sometimes," Ober said. "But after that Detroit start, I was really sore the next day. And usually that goes away if it's a muscle thing. But if it's not going away, and it's for days in a row where I just, I'd go play catch, and it did not feel good, so that's when we decided to get the MRI."
The MRI and subsequent second opinions revealed an aponeurotic plate injury, which Ober described as a tendon pulling on his pelvic bone. The only cure for that is rest, which Ober withstood. He's back to playing catch and said he's hopeful to return to the mound and throw a bullpen by the end of this week.
Ober, who has a 4.01 ERA and 1-2 record, added he'll likely be in line for some rehab starts with the Saints, potentially next week, though he's trying not to push it.
"It was definitely frustrating, and more so on like not being out there for the team since I tried waiting and tried being patient the first time around and then that still didn't work," Ober said. "It's more frustrating on that side instead of me actually being hurt."
Several Twins' players on the 60-day IL are taking steps toward returns. Miguel Sano had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and hasn't played since April 30. A Twins spokesman said the first baseman has "moved along in his running progression" and has also started hitting, with plans to face some live pitching next week.
Jorge Alcala appeared in only two games this season before going to the IL with right elbow inflammation. The reliever started a rehab assignment at the end of May in Fort Myers but had to pause after about a week when more pain occurred. Now he's doing strengthening exercises and will resume his throwing program next week.
Randy Dobnak had a setback dealing with his right middle finger injury. He has ruptured some of the pulleys that hold the tendon to the bone starting last season. But after taking a break recently, he is now playing catch out to 120 feet and has done a 15-pitch, fastball-only bullpen at 75% effort.
In an alternate universe where Tuesday's 11-inning game against Cleveland went longer or a position player had an injury, the Twins could have fielded starter Devin Smeltzer in an emergency situation.
Manager Rocco Baldelli said Smeltzer "had his spikes on" in the dugout late in the game — after the Twins had used up their bench in pinch-hitting and pinch-running situations — just in case.
"When we get to our last position player, and then we use them, and there's nobody left, you have to have somebody ready. So Smeltz was the guy," Baldelli said. "He can go out there and shag. If you have to put him in the outfield, he can go catch a ball fine.
"I don't like to say this out loud, but there are some pitchers that can go catch a fly ball better than probably some outfielders. I'm just saying in general. I'm not talking about our guys. I'm saying in general, around the league, I've seen that."
Buxton sits out
Byron Buxton did not play Wednesday because of his persistent right knee injury that he's been playing through most of this season. Baldelli said the medical staff checked out the center fielder before the game, and the manager determined Buxton should sit this one out.