Cardinals miss Twins pitcher Lance Lynn
MINNEAPOLIS—Luke Weaver could tell the difference in St. Louis Cardinals camp this spring. With Lance Lynn no longer around, there was a void that went beyond the starting rotation.
"He always had a big voice in the clubhouse," Weaver said of his fellow right-hander. "He knew what to say. Every day he had some jokes. Not having that guy across the locker room and not hearing him was different, but players come and go with different teams and this is part of it. I know the Twins got a good guy over there and a heck of a pitcher."
Seven starts into his Twins tenure, Lynn is still trying to live up to his bulldog reputation. He will carry a 1-3 record and 7.34 earned-run average into Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. start against his former team.
Just three pitchers with more than 30 innings have a higher ERA or nine-inning walk rate (6.55) than Lynn, who signed a one-year, $12 million deal that includes separate $1 million escalators for reaching both 170 and 180 innings.
Averaging just 4.9 innings per start, Lynn is on pace to work just 162 innings, even if he gets his usual 33 starts. He's also coming off a start in Anaheim, Calif., in which he got just two swing-and-miss strikes in his final 54 pitches after requiring a trainer's visit to the mound to check on what Lynn described as a "stinger" that "kind of shot up through the lower back and (left) hip."
Weaver, a former first-round pick who still refers to Lynn as "Ole Lance," said he learned plenty about pitching from a veteran who won 77 games for the Cardinals, including five in the postseason, from 2011-17.
"He taught me a lot," Weaver said. "Some conversations we had about pitching were really advanced. Sometimes I wouldn't even talk. I'd just listen. He just had a real light attitude. He joked around a lot. It was just cool to have him around. He's missed, but we know he's doing all right."
Lynn, who turned a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals before waiting until March 12 to sign, had some pointed comments for his former organization during the Twins' visit to St. Louis last week.
"I was here for seven years, and there's no loyalty in the game," Lynn told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You've noticed players not having the loyalty anymore either. ... Maybe I'll just go on and be a hired gun the rest of my career; I don't really care."
Lynn will be matched up against right-hander Miles Mikolas, who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal last winter after three breakthrough seasons in Japan. Mikolas is 5-0 with a 2.51 ERA through seven starts as Lynn's de facto replacement.
"Lance was a vital piece for so many years, so he should definitely be proud of what he accomplished here," Weaver said. "I think he walked away from this organization with his head held night after the numbers he put up and the impact he made, especially in those big games."
When Robbie Grossman was ejected by plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in the fifth inning of Monday night's 1-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners, he became the first Twins player to get tossed from a game since last July 30 at Oakland (Miguel Sano).
The Twins had just four total ejections last season: two for Sano and two for manager Paul Molitor.
"I couldn't even believe it," Grossman said. "(Reyburn) didn't like what I had to say and thought I'd had enough of the game. He made the decision I couldn't play anymore."
Grossman, who had returned to the dugout after being called out on strikes, said it was his first ejection at any level since he was in the Class A Florida State League.
"I said I thought he missed two pitches in my at-bat, and he didn't like what I had to say," said Grossman, who had three strikes called against him in that trip. "We stick up for our teammates. We say what needs to be said. It's part of the game."
Still no Sano
Miguel Sano (hamstring) ran the bases again Tuesday afternoon but still wasn't able to cut loose.
"I'm still, from my vantage point, not seeing max effort, which we're going to need to see," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He's swinging the bat fine. It's just going to be making sure he can do everything he needs to do on a baseball field and play a position defensively."
Entering Tuesday, the Twins were 9-7 since Sano last played on April 27.
Major League Baseball released the order for the June 4-6 amateur draft. The Twins' first-round pick is 20th overall, while their next two picks will come at Nos. 59 (second round) and 74 (competitive balance round). They lost their third-rounder (96th overall) because of the Lynn signing.