CHICAGO — It was only three days, but Juan Minaya looked like he's made real improvements in his latest stint with the Twins, looked far more like the effective reliever who spent most of 2021 in Minnesota's bullpen, in fact. He faced 12 batters and retired 10 of them, he didn't issue a walk, a problem that bothered him earlier this season, nor did he allow an extra-base hit. Heck, he was even credited with the win in Friday's game, when Byron Buxton hit a walkoff home run.
So Rocco Baldelli called Minaya into his office Monday afternoon to congratulate him.
Just kidding. Baldelli told the 31-year-old righthander he was being cut. Again.
"We've had this conversation with Juan several times," Baldelli said after Minaya was designated for assignment in order to activate Trevor Megill from the injured list. "It's never easy to tell a guy that's pitching well that he's being designated, but the players are perceptive. They understand what's going on. Sometimes the moves are not the most fun conversations, but Juan was understanding."
He, and most other pitchers on the fringe of rosters, understands that teams churn through relievers these days in hopes of keeping a supply of fresh arms. So it was with Megill, whose sore shoulder rebounded well after almost three weeks off. Minaya wouldn't have been available Monday after throwing 27 pitches Sunday, so he lost his roster spot.
If the Twins put him on waivers and he's not claimed, he'll decide whether to accept a job with Class AAA St. Paul or declare free agency. That's the same choice that righthander Tyler Thornburg — who lost his roster spot to Minaya on Friday — faces now; Thornburg cleared waivers Monday and has 48 hours to accept his assignment to the Saints.
"I think Juan enjoys playing with the Twins. We like having him. He's done a nice job for us," Baldelli said. "I love having him in the organization, and I'd love to keep him."
Sano begins rehab
Miguel Sano's rehab assignment officially began Monday with the Twins' complex-league team in Florida. The slugging first baseman, out almost exactly two months since having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, grounded out three times and flied out for the rookie-level team.
"He's in a good place physically. He's ready to play," Baldelli said. "He's going to get a lot of at-bats, though, and he's going to get out in the field. It's not about results right now — he needs his body to catch back up."
Players can spend a maximum of 20 days on a rehab assignment, so Sano is likely to return to the Twins shortly after the All-Star break.
- Righthander Josh Winder was scratched from his start for St. Paul on Monday and will meet the Twins in Chicago on Tuesday. Winder, optioned to the Saints on June 23, is not allowed to be recalled until this weekend except in case of an injury on the major league team, so his presence is an indication the Twins have concerns about the health of one of their pitchers.
- Catcher Ryan Jeffers returned to the Twins' lineup Monday after missing three games with a bruised right thumb.