When Joe Ryan took a batted ball straight to his right wrist and walked off the field immediately on Tuesday afternoon, it was easy to assume the worst by his reaction.
A broken wrist, maybe. Or a season-ending injury.
The Minnesota Twins were able to breathe a little easier when Ryan’s X-rays came back negative. After the game, Ryan said he felt good, though when he might pitch again obviously is still to be determined.
But while the Twins avoided the worst with Ryan, one of their top pitching prospects, the team, which is firmly in an evaluation period, hasn’t gotten a chance to assess many of their young starters this season in the way they’d like to because of other injuries.
“Being on the field and trying to keep guys going and in their rotations and active and healthy, it’s always an ongoing thing in our game,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s something that’s not easy to do all the time. You do everything right, you have a good plan, the players work hard, and sometimes they’re still going to miss some time.”
Jhoan Duran pitched in just five games this season with Triple-A St. Paul before suffering an elbow strain. Josh Winder hasn’t pitched in a Triple-A game since July 21, shut down because of a right shoulder impingement.
Winder is the club’s No. 4 prospect, per Baseball America, and Duran checks in at No. 9. It’s possible both would have gotten looks at the major league level by now if healthy.
Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer were also all unable to carve out roles for themselves in the rotation this season due to lengthy stays on the injured list. Both Dobnak and Thorpe made somewhat recent comeback attempts only to wind up on the injured list once more with the same injury that put them there in the first place.
“I’d love to have all those guys out there on the mound, throwing, getting a full year of work, especially after the year that we lost,” Baldelli said. “That’s not realistic. Every team you look at is going to have players, prospects, guys in the big leagues that are not going to be out there for full season. You take whatever you can get and then you react.”
Twins starter Griffin Jax was named the the MLB recipient of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award on Tuesday, given to a player or coach who shares the same commitment to Feller in serving the United States. Feller enlisted in the Navy shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Jax, an Air Force Reserve Captain, became the first Air Force Academy graduate to play in the major leagues earlier this year. He finished his two-year active duty commitment in 2019. The starter, who is the first member of the Twins organization to receive an honor from the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Foundation, was honored with an award pre-game on the field.
Former Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz was also honored on Tuesday, named the club’s Roberto Clemente Award finalist for the second straight season. The award is given to the MLB player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Cruz, who was given the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award last year at the ESPYs and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, was honored for his charitable work, especially in his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic.
The winner of the award will be chosen by a blue-ribbon panel that will include Commissioner Rob Manfred and Clemente’s children. Fans will be allowed to vote until the end of the regular season, and the fan vote will count towards one of the panel’s vote.
Starter John Gant was placed on the injured list with an abdominal strain, as expected. To fill his spot, the Twins recalled pitcher Andrew Albers. … Charlie Barnes was added as the 29th man for the doubleheader. … Top pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic was named the Double-A Central Pitcher of the Week after going 1-1 with a 1.54 earned-run average and 11 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings with Double-A Wichita.