A Twins rotation that has already lost two members to the injured list was thrown further into disarray Monday when manager Rocco Baldelli decided to skip 40-year-old lefthander Rich Hill, who subsequently became the team’s third starting pitcher to land on the injured list.
Baldelli said after the Twins’ 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh that Hill was suffering from shoulder fatigue, but that nothing had otherwise changed. Earlier in the day, Baldelli said Hill “was a little fatigued and probably a little behind getting ready to make his next start,” after shutting out St. Louis for five innings in his debut on Wednesday.
Baldelli didn’t have a corresponding roster move to announce but added that the need for additional depth factored into the decision. “With the rosters going very soon to 28 [scheduled for Friday], knowing that we were going to have innings we were going to have to cover and fewer bodies to do it, we probably weren’t going to be able to last that amount of time between making starts,” Baldelli said.
Hill joins Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey on the IL. Rookie lefthander Lewis Thorpe was pressed into service as the starting pitcher Monday, and Randy Dobnak will remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future, especially since the righthander has given up only one run over nine innings in his two starts thus far.
Jose Berrios will face the Pirates in Tuesday’s homestand finale, Baldelli said, and Dobnak and Kenta Maeda will start during the two-game series in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bailey is eligible to come off it on Saturday at Kansas City. Odorizzi, meanwhile, took a solid step Monday toward returning from a lower back injury that has caused him to miss the season’s first two weeks. The All-Star righthander threw 52 pitches over four simulated innings at the Twins’ secondary camp in St. Paul, “and he looked great. Came out all-smiles,” Baldelli said. “I could see Odo fall into the rotation against the Royals. That’s a very realistic option for us.”
The scrambled rotation has affected the Twins bullpen, too.
Minnesota native Caleb Thielbar, the Randolph High School product who appeared in 109 games for the Twins in 2013 to ’15, returned to the big leagues when he was recalled from the camp in St. Paul.
The 33-year-old lefthander was out of affiliated baseball in 2016 and 2017, but kept his career alive by pitching for the independent St. Paul Saints. He played Class AAA ball for the Tigers and Braves affiliates the past two seasons, then signed back with the Twins last November.
Outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr., who didn’t get an at-bat in the season’s first nine games, was sent to the St. Paul camp. Thielbar give ths Twins 15 pitchers on their 30-man roster, in addition to four on the injured list. Jorge Alcala was added for the injured Zack Littell on Saturday, and Sean Poppen took Bailey’s place Sunday.
• Third baseman Josh Donaldson remains out of action after feeling tightness in his right calf during Friday’s game. Baldelli said the former AL MVP will likely travel with the Twins on their eight-game road trip. “I’m almost positive of that but we’ll confirm that tomorrow,” he said.
• To celebrate the return of Derek Shelton, Twins bench coach in 2018 and 2019 and now Pirates manager, the Twins displayed a photo slideshow of some of Shelton’s more entertaining moments on the scoreboard during batting practice.