When Matt Magill stood on a major league mound for the first time in 17 months Sunday, he felt a little jittery at first. But at least there were a couple of familiar faces to help him get through it. What made the whole thing surreal, though, is that those friends were standing in the batter’s box.
Eugenio Suarez, who was playing third base behind Magill during his most recent big-league appearance — Sept. 30, 2016, while he was with the Reds — splintered his bat while hitting a run-scoring single to left. A few moments later, Adam Duvall, Magill’s teammate in left field the last time they met, looked at strike three to end the inning.
Magill knew “a lot” of the Reds he faced Sunday, which helped him get over his surroundings. “I had to get the jitters out of the way. Everybody goes through it,” the 28-year-old righthander said after making his Twins debut with 2⅓ scoreless innings vs. his old team. “As the outing went on, I got more comfortable on the mound. The life on my pitches got better.”
Magill is the latest contestant in the Twins’ reliever-for-a-day revolving door, but unlike David Hale, who was immediately designated for assignment Friday after appearing in his first Twins game, Magill survived Day 1.
“He threw well,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He gave up three hits, but [they amounted to] the broken bat, and a couple of fairly weakly hit balls through the right side of the infield.”
Miguel Sano was out of the lineup for a second consecutive game because of a sore left hamstring, and Molitor sounded uncertain whether the Twins third baseman would be healthy enough to return Monday.
“He still feels [tightness] rotationally a little bit when he’s swinging,” Molitor said. “But I’m optimistic. I know he wants to play, but we’re going to have to be smart about how quickly we put him back out there. We’ll take the time that we have and see how he feels tomorrow.”
Center fielder Byron Buxton plans to do some light running Monday, testing to see how painful the hairline fracture in his left big toe is, in hopes of being allowed to take batting practice before the Twins leave town for Chicago on Wednesday night.
The problem, Buxton said, was that “I hit the ball so damn hard” a week ago, when he fouled a pitch off his foot. “Just my luck — I think I barreled that one up,” he joked.