Chris Paddack ran onto a Major League Baseball field for the first time since he underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery 16 months ago, but he will have to wait a little longer to pitch in a game.
Paddack, in a cruel twist, entered Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Angels to pitch in the seventh inning. As he ran from the bullpen, the umpiring crew told the Target Field grounds crew to bring out the tarp.
A 50-minute rain delay wiped out Paddack's season debut, and Louie Varland took the mound when the game resumed.
"A wet blanket, if you will, of some kind," said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who called Paddack into his office early in the rain delay to inform him he wouldn't return to the game. "He's worked for literally almost years to get back for today."
Paddack might pitch Tuesday night when the Twins begin a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. The 27-year-old made two starts and one relief appearance during his rehab assignment. He called the relief appearance, Tuesday at Class AAA St. Paul, a night that "changed my career."
The results were great — five strikeouts in three scoreless innings while reaching 98 mph with his fastball — but he was happier with how he responded in his first game out of the bullpen. He didn't go through his usual pre-start routine. Once the bullpen phone rang, he had to be ready.
"I didn't know what to expect," Paddack said. "A lot of emotion. A lot of new for me. The results showed I can handle that situation."
It's been a month of learning for Paddack. When he made his first rehab appearance at Class A Fort Myers, he had a pitch-clock violation.
After 16 months of rehabbing, Paddack positioned himself for a chance at the Twins' postseason roster as a reliever. It's important for him to pitch well over the next week and show how his pitches play against major league hitters.
"By far the strongest and heaviest I've ever been," said Paddack, who added 20 pounds. "I'm throwing the hardest. There are just so many positives to take away from this. Being a little bit more mature."
Sore back sidelines Castro
Willi Castro was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game because of a sore back. It's believed he sustained the injury diving for a ground ball in the eighth inning Friday.
"We don't see it as a long-term issue right now," Baldelli said. "I don't think we have any reason to see it like that yet."
With Castro sidelined, Jorge Polanco started at third base Sunday and Kyle Farmer remained at shortstop one day after he was hit by a pitch on his left elbow.
Baldelli conceded he typically would've sat Farmer after he was hit, but the Twins didn't have another option at shortstop.
"Can you play? The answer is always yes," Baldelli said of Farmer. "Unless his arm is broken, he's going to say yes to that question first. Then if you ask him how he's doing, he'll say, really not good. It's not how it works with most people, even at this level of professional sports."
• To activate Paddack onto the roster, the Twins optioned Josh Winder to Class AAA. In a procedural move, the Twins recalled Jovani Moran and put him on the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Paddack.
• Carlos Correa, who is on the 10-day IL after he aggravated plantar fasciitis in his left foot, did infield drills before Sunday's game with infield coach Tony Diaz.
• The Saints concluded their season with a 3-2 loss to Toledo at CHS Field, ending the year with an 84-64 record. Byron Buxton, the designated hitter, flew out to the wall for the final out. Buxton was hitless in four at-bats with a strikeout. Nick Gordon went 0-for-2 with a walk, and Joey Gallo was hitless in three at-bats.