Rich Hill pitched live batting practice at a baseball camp July 6 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
A couple of things following the Twins' 10-5 victory over the White Sox before we pull up a chair and watch game No. 2:
Rich Hill. The lefthander was scheduled to start on Saturday, but eyebrows were raised during the middle of the game when the club announced that Randy Dobnak would start.
Was Hill injured?
No, the Twins said. They felt it would be in Hill's best interest if he was pushed back a couple days.
"Rich is a scratch," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We are going to give Rich a couple more days. Rich's original day was day five. With Odo we had to make a call as far as who is going to take his spot. Rich fit in well just because his throw day actually fell on that day. But, ultimately, as we spent a little time talking with Rich and with the staff, we just thought it was best to just give him another couple of days, keep him on the original date we had set and let him pitch."
Dobnak came out of nowhere to go 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in nine outings last year, five of them starts. As it turned out, the Twins handed him the ball in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Yankees. He now gets to start Game 2 of the season on Saturday against Chicago.
"We're going to let Dobs start," Baldelli said. "Dobs has been ready. He's ready to give us innings and he's been working as if he's going to be a starter or a very long piece, a bulk guy."
Now Hill, who played catch on Friday, is in line to start the hope opener on Tuesday when the Twins play host to St. Louis. Nothing has been announced yet.
"Playing catch and looking where (Hill) was at and otherwise, they just felt like for right now he'd be best getting a couple of extra days," said Derek Falvey, the Twins president of baseball operations. "I'll leave that generally to Rocco on those fronts, but we've had a lot of conversations about where guys go in the rotation, giving some guys extra days for different reasons to try and get them prepared."
My review of the pre-game statements made on the field shrank from the first to last edition. I wanted to make sure it was covered some way, so here it is, with comments.
Chicago White Sox manager Ricky Renteria kneeled next to Tim Anderson (7) and Yoan Moncada before a baseball game against the Twins on Friday in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The pre-game program included a Black Lives Matter message from the Players Alliance, a nonprofit group formed by about 150 current and former Black players. That was followed by a powerful message from actor Morgan Freeman, calling for change as the country continues to deal with racial injustice.
"Equality and unity cannot be, unless there's empathy," Freeman said during the message.
A 200-yard black ribbon laid on the grass from down the left field line to home plate then down the right field line. In a a show of unity, players, coaches and staffs from both teams held the ribbon. Twins pitcher Zack Littell kneeled during the statement and moment of silence.
Then the National Anthem began. Littell tood up, but several Twins players and coaches kneeled. manager Rocco Baldelli, bench coach Mike Bell and first base coach Tommy Watkins kneeled. Taylor Rogers, Bryon Buxton, LaMonte Wade, Jr., Trevor May, Evan Whitefield, Tyler Duffey and Sergio Romo also took a knee. Several White Sox players, including manager Rick Renteria and leadoff hitter Tim Anderson, did as well.
Baldelli said that the club has been discussing social issues in recent weeks and that it's been impressive how the conversations have gone.
"We had a lot of conversations," Baldelli said. "We had group conversations, many of them and a lot of individual conversations.. First of all I think the moment was beautiful in many ways. It was something we were anticipating. We knew there were going to be a lot of MLB initiatives and team initiatives, and everyone was looking forward to it one way or another.
"But also it allowed people to express themselves in some meaningful ways. You spend a little time talking wot people and you can see how much some of these moments really mean to them. They mean a lot to me and I was very happy to be a part of it."
Buxton drove in from the Twin Cities Friday, presumably to make himself available for game action. At least that was my thinking. They wouldn't have him drive to Chicago and not use him, right?
But what if Buxton felt so strongly about being part of the pre-game ceremony that the club let him join them? That's apparently what has happened. The plan is to get Buxton in games once the team returns to Target Field. He was allowed to be part of pre-game on Opening Day.
Part of me is surprised. But part of me isn't. The Twins' have talked a strong game about racial injustice and being a more diverse organization. They have taken down Calvin Griffith's statue, donated $25 million to fight racial injustice and allowed one of their key players to drive to Chicago to join in the statement the players wanted to make.
Their words have been strong, and their actions have matched their words.
"I think Buck made the decision and wanted to make the decision to drive down to be with his teammates on Opening Day, " Falvey said. "Having just made that drive as well, it's not too bad. It's pretty quick. You can get down here pretty quickly and he wanted to be down here for his teammates, for Opening Day for baseball, but also for being a part of what transpired pregame, something that he felt really strongly about and wanted to make that trip.
"He got here during the game, got a little extra treatment. Tomorrow morning he'll stay, continue to get a little extra treatment because we have the day game and eventually get back to Minnesota. Our hope and expectation is to get him going once we get back home."
Today's 1:10 game (FSN) will see Max Kepler, who hit two home runs in the leadoff spot Friday night, move to eighth in the order:
Mitch Garver, C
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Jorge Polanco, SS
Miguel Sano, 1B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Marwin Gonzalez, RF
Max Kepler, CF
Ehire Adrianza, 2B
starting pitcher: Randy Dobnak
Tim Anderson, SS
Yoan Moncada, 3B
Bobby Abreu, 1B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Eloy Jiminez, LF
Nicky Delmonico, RF
Luis Robert, CF
James McCann, C
Leury Garcia, 2B
starting pitcher: Dallas Keuchel