Injured Twins stream into Target Field, providing health updates
Minnesota also set to receive new jerseys, logos next season
MINNEAPOLIS — Over in one corner of the clubhouse, the locker that usually sits empty between Byron Buxton and Max Kepler is now occupied by Chris Paddack. On the far end of that side near the clubhouse entrance, in the locker between Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, you can find Jorge Alcala. And across the room, there’s Kenta Maeda.
Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach, Cody Stashak and Jhon Romero are among the others who have been around on the current homestand.
The last homestand of the season has brought a number of familiar faces back to Target Field, as the team’s injured players evacuated Fort Myers, Florida, where the Twins have shut down their facility due to Hurricane Ian, and came into Minneapolis to meet with team doctors for end-of-season physicals, get an updated assessment of their rehab programs and to say goodbye to their teammates ahead of the offseason.
“They’re here for different reasons, but it’s good to see them all,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It is an unusual set of circumstances where they’re all here at the same time, but it’s good to see all of their faces.”
Maeda, who ended up being shut down for the entire season despite some optimism earlier on that he might be able to return in September, said he had built up to the point where he was throwing live batting practice down in Florida. Maeda underwent Tommy John surgery last September.
“After talking to the coaches and the training staff, it was a collective decision for me to come back next season,” Maeda said through interpreter Daichi Sekizaki. “We all thought as a group that would be beneficial instead of taking the risk to come back to pitch for however many games at the end of this season.”
He expects to have a mostly regular offseason split between Los Angeles and Japan and plans to start picking up a ball earlier than usual to get his arm ready for next spring.
Alcala, who had an arthroscopic debridement surgery in early August, has resumed throwing and is now stretched out to 90 feet. Right now, he said, he feels really good.
The hard-throwing righty landed on the injured list just days into the season. He had only made two outings before right elbow inflammation forced him off the mound. The Twins sent him to Fort Myers, Florida, to rehab, and at the time, he figured he’d be back in a month or two.
But during the course of ramping back up, it became apparent he’d need a surgery.
“It’s been a difficult road, especially because I wasn’t able to be with my team this year,” Alcala said through interpreter Elvis Martinez. “Just watching from home has been hard. The rehab process was tough on me as well because I’ve never been hurt this long and going through a process like this. But thank God here we are and I’m healthy.”
Alcala said they are still in the process of crafting his offseason program and how to build him up but he’s looking forward to being ready in time for spring training.
Paddack, who underwent his second Tommy John surgery in May, is by far the furthest along of the three, but reported that his rehab has been ”smooth sailing.”
The Texas native has been rehabbing in his home state in the Dallas area where his surgeon — also Maeda’s — Dr. Keith Meister is based. Paddack’s physical therapists in Texas relay information on the starter back and forth to the Twins’ staff.
Paddack said with his second Tommy John surgery, everything has been pushed back a couple of months in his timeline. He said he just started getting into upper body work within the last couple of weeks, and his target to return is late next season.
“My goal is August of next year, being able to come help this team win,” Paddack said. “That gives me five or six start and some, with playoffs. That’s what I’m looking forward to. Just looking forward to throwing first. Got a lot of stuff I’ve got to focus on. Try not to get too far ahead of myself.”
After toying around with the idea for a few years, the Twins are planning on unveiling what they’re calling a “brand refresh,” during the upcoming offseason, introducing new logos and jerseys.
“It kind of felt like it was the right time to introduce a new look to our fanbase and our players,” vice president of communications and content Dustin Morse said. “It just felt like there was a push for a fresh look, and we kind of got a team together and started concepting what could be a new look for us, and this year was just kind of an evolution of what some ideas, put it on paper, and it became a reality.”
While details of the new looks are scarce, Morse did confirm the Twins will not be changing their traditional color scheme. The Twins see the changes as “an evolution of the past,” with a “new, clean, fresh feel,” Morse said.
The Twins included players in the design process, including center fielder Byron Buxton, whom Morse said the organization leaned on for advice from the beginning. The Twins have also been working on a City Connect jersey in collaboration with Nike, though that is not expected to debut until 2024.
“The word that comes to mind for me is, ‘Cleaner.’ It just looks a little sharper. They look fresh,” Morse said. “And some tweaks to the logos, potentially introducing a new logo. That’s all part of this brand refresh that will be introduced this fall.”
Baldelli said he believes Larnach is done for the season after experiencing wrist pain on his rehab assignment. Larnach was nearly ready to return after core muscle surgery when the wrist flared up. … Max Kepler (wrist) is doing “baseball-related things,” Baldelli said, and the Twins are assessing how that goes before deciding if he will return this season. … Jorge Polanco (knee) is unlikely to return before the year ends, Baldelli said.
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