If Joey Gallo was Twins manager, Joey Gallo would have been in the lineup on Saturday. Which may help explain why there are no player-managers anymore.
Gallo "has been playing with a mild hamstring strain for a while now. He's played through it. He's even played outfield" despite experiencing pain when he runs, said Rocco Baldelli, the actual Twins manager. "He's pretty tough. He'll play through almost anything until we just step in and say, 'Hey man, we need you to get healthy.' "
They finally told him that Friday night, after Gallo aggravated the injury while warming up before the game. On Saturday, the Twins put the man who, as Baldelli described him last month, "doesn't feel pain like a normal human" on the 10-day injured list. With a spate of lefthanded starting pitchers ahead over the next few games, the Twins chose to call up righthanded hitter Kyle Garlick from Class AAA St. Paul rather than lefthanded Matt Wallner.
"It's probably the right time," said bench coach Jayce Tingler, who filled in for Baldelli during the manager's pregame news conference Saturday. "Let's step back, get this thing 100 percent, unplug, get this right and be ready to go."
Gallo's recent results suggest the same strategy. Though he has remained steady in the field, his nagging hamstring has coincided with a slump at the plate. Since May 22, Gallo was 3-for-29 (.103) with 19 strikeouts. He hasn't homered since May 20 in Anaheim, though his 11 home runs still lead the Twins.
"He wants to be out there," Tingler said of Gallo, who also went on the IL in April because of a right intercostal strain. "He just continued to push it, push it, push it. And yesterday, he aggravated it."
The 'chosen' one
Garlick was playing cards in the Saints clubhouse in Buffalo on Friday night. He doesn't remember much about what he was dealt — but he definitely won the card game.
"I guess I had the aces," he joked.
That's because, in a clubhouse with Wallner, who is 8-for-18 with three homers since being sent back to St. Paul; Trevor Larnach, who began his rehab assignment Friday; and Jose Miranda, "who is beginning to turn it around down there," Garlick said, "I was the one chosen."
It meant a 4 a.m. wakeup call to catch a flight to Minnesota, but Garlick isn't complaining about his third call-up of 2023. And even though he technically leads the Twins in slugging percentage this season, albeit in only eight games, he's excited, he said, to see if the changes he's made in his swing help him produce even more.
"I'm just standing up a little more upright, allowing me to just see the ball a little bit better," said Garlick, who has 16 homers in parts of three seasons with the Twins, two of them this year. Hunching over too much "was affecting my pitch selection. I'm getting myself into better counts [and] swinging at better pitches."
• Recently demoted Edouard Julien hit a three-run double, Larnach hit a two-run homer and the Saints beat Buffalo 8-3. Patrick Murphy pitched two perfect innings of relief to improve to 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA.
• Baldelli wasn't at the ballpark before Saturday's game after experiencing abdominal distress and going to the emergency room for diverticulitis. Baldelli did show up for the game, but he was having trouble moving, and it was Tingler who came out to make three late-inning pitching changes.
• Lefthander Caleb Thielbar wasn't activated Saturday because the Twins "just want to make sure all the normal aches and pains" have disappeared, Tingler said. "It had been awhile since he had thrown, so we want to give him a couple of days." Thielbar said his rehab assignment with the Saints in Buffalo was a success — "I caught a couple of nice smallmouth bass in Lake Erie."
• Byron Buxton was out of the lineup for a second consecutive day because of sore ribs after getting hit by a pitch Thursday, and with Sonny Gray, a ground-ball pitcher, on the mound, shortstop Carlos Correa was held back another day, too, with a sore right foot. "It's been progressing, trending the right way," Correa said. "If it keeps going like that, tomorrow [might] be the day I can be out there."