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Twins activate Devin Smeltzer, place Joe Ryan on COVID list

Smeltzer is scheduled to pitch Thursday’s series opener against Kansas City

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer throws a pitch against the Cleveland Guardians during the third inning May 14, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Pitcher Devin Smeltzer had Wednesday’s start pushed back to Thursday, and pushed up to the majors.

Scheduled to start for the Saints against Class AAA Indianapolis at CHS Field, Smeltzer was instead promoted to the Minnesota Twins and is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field.

It will be Smeltzer’s 21st major-league appearance since 2019, all for the Twins, and his second trip to the bigs this season. At 26 and with some solid major-league starts under his belt, Smeltzer has struggled to stay positive.

“It gets worse,” he said before the Twins’ series finale against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday at Target Field. “You want to stay, the longer you’ve been around.”

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Being optioned back to St. Paul the last time was especially difficult. He made two appearances for the Twins a week ago, the second in a 6-4 victory over Kansas City in which he gave up one earned run on five hits and a walk in 5⅓ innings.

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“Once you start to feel more comfortable here, perform, then it gets harder and harder once you get sent back down,” he said.

The rotation spot opened because right-hander Joe Ryan was placed on the COVID injured list Wednesday. Arguably the Twins’ best starter this season, Ryan is 5-2 with a 2.28 earned-run average and 42 strikeouts in 43⅓ innings pitched.

“He is doing OK,” manager Rocco Baldelli said, “but I won’t go into his personal situation beyond that.”

Baldelli said he didn’t immediately know whether other players or staff were being tested for COVID as close contacts.

Polanco sits

Second baseman Jorge Polanco was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of soreness in his right ankle, which has bothered him off and on this season.

“This is something that he’s been kinda playing through for a little while,” Baldelli said. “Even when he’s out there and playing really well, it’s still something that he feels, I think, at times. But it’s still something that really doesn’t hold him back.”

Baldelli said Polanco might sit another game before returning, adding, “I think we can kind of nip it, give him a few days and get him back.”

Briefly

Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. start was pushed to 1 p.m. because of a steady rain.

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