It’s not training camp without big talk, and lefthander Rich Hill provided it Tuesday.
Speaking one day after he faced hitters for the first time since undergoing offseason elbow surgery, Hill took things a step further when he was asked a question about the capability of the starting rotation.
“What we’re capable of as a group is winning the World Series,” he said.
Hill certainly knows how to get to a World Series, as he started games in 2017 and 2018 while with the Dodgers. And he didn’t do too shabby, either, posting a 1.80 ERA in three starts. Unfortunately, the Dodgers feel short in both series.
But the 40-year old Hill knows what a good team looks like. And he picked the Twins believing they are ready to take another step.
While the Twins took some criticism for not adding front line starting pitching during the offseason, Hill feels the unit can be a force.
“You certainly see a lot of talk about the lineup, obviously, and I think when we look at the lineup it’s one of the best lineups in baseball,” he said. “You look at a bullpen that had tremendous success last year, and extremely underrated. And now looking at a rotation that’s been, with [Jose] Berrios and with [Kenta] Maeda jumping in there, getting traded over from L.A. Obviously the pieces of the puzzle are there to make the rotation one of the best in baseball as well. I think when we look at that entire lineup, bullpen, and rotation, we’re in a very good position to do some special things.”
Hill was 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts for the Dodgers but was hampered by a left knee sprain early and then a sore forearm that led to surgery.’
More testing please
Hill also didn’t hold back when talking about the testing protocols that players and staff members must follow. Hill has noticed that clubhouse attendants, who are around players throughout the day, are not being tested every other day like he and his teammates are.
“They’re getting tested twice a week,” Hill said. “Now I have a real big issue with that because I think they should be getting tested as much as we are and anybody who is around the team should be getting tested just as much as the players are.
“And that’s something that I’m glad you brought that up because I feel strongly about that. Those guys are getting stretched pretty thin and they’re already down a few clubhouse staff members, I know that, and I know that’s happening throughout baseball and that’s something that should be addressed and should be fixed as soon as possible because they’re going home to their families, they’re going home to their loved ones and it’s not right -- it’s not even that it’s fair, it’s just not right that they’re not getting the opportunity to have the same testing availability that we are and that’s something that should be happening.”
Clubhouse attendants log some of the longest hours at a ballpark, frequently arriving before the players do and stay until after they leave.
Hill’s opinion was amplified by Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
“From what I’ve heard about his thoughts and his quotes, I think he’s probably absolutely right,” Baldelli said. “What we should do is everything we can to take care of everyone here to the best of our ability.”
Buxton, Stashak join team
Outfielder Byron Buxton and righthander Cody Stashak, who both missed the start of camp to be with their wives during childbirth, were cleared to rejoin the team on Tuesday, It was Buxton’s second child and Stashak’s first.
The arrival of Buxton is noteworthy because of the time he missed last season because he was limited to 87 games because of a wrist injury, then a concussion and finally shoulder surgery. He was being brought along slowly during spring training before the virus took over. The lengthy delay has allowed Buxton to fully recover from surgery and is in line to impact the season on Opening Day.
Stashak debuted in July of last season and wound up on the playoff roster. He posted 3.24 ERA and walked just one batter in 25 innings.
• Miguel Sano and Willians Astudillo, both recovering from the virus, continue to wait to be cleared to take part in workouts.
• The Twins on Tuesday held their shortest workout of camp, as Baldelli wanted to give his team a break after five days of productive sessions. The Twins on Wednesday will begin a series of intersquad games. On Tuesday, four groups of hitters will face Twins pitchers but man their positions when they are not hitting.