Michael Pineda will rejoin the Twins a little earlier than expected, but not to pitch.
The righthanded starter, who has spent the season working his way back from elbow surgery a year ago, felt some irritation in his right knee during a bullpen session earlier this week and was scratched from his Sunday rehab start for Class AAA Rochester. Instead, Pineda will fly to Minneapolis to have his knee examined by team doctors and undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test Monday.
"It hasn't been to a point where we felt it was inhibiting him at all," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "When he threw his bullpen, he thought he should back down. We all know he's at a point where we're not going to push anything."
Still, Molitor said, the Twins expect the knee soreness to delay, not derail, their plans to pitch Pineda in a few major league games in September. He had been scheduled to start for the Red Wings on Sunday and Friday, and depending upon what the MRI shows, still could make an appearance before the Class AAA season ends Sept. 3.
Jim Thome's thank-you tour of his former homes came to Target Field Saturday, and a few of his ex-Twins teammates, among them Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, visited to congratulate the new member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That's an example of what made his 2010 season, in which he hit 25 of his 612 career home runs, so memorable, Thome said.
"Chemistry like no other," Thome said of that team, the first to play in Target Field and the Twins' most recent division winner. "From teammates to the front office, to [then-manager Ron Gardenhire] to the coaches to the fans — it's got that special feeling here."
Thome, who hit a series of memorable home runs in Minneapolis including the longest one in the stadium's history, is currently a special assistant to White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn, a job he says he's still getting used to. "I'm learning the sabermetrics, the analytic parts of the game. I was so blessed to grow up in the old-school kind of time, so having that, and now wanting to learn that [analytics] side of it is very unique," said Thome, who was inducted in Cooperstown late last month.
With 33 games left in Joe Mauer's eight-year contract with the Twins, General Manager Thad Levine said Saturday that Mauer "has not had one conversation with us about what his plans are after the season. His agent has not had one conversation with us. … And so we have not pushed him in any way, shape or form" for a decision.
Speaking to a fans forum sponsored by Baseball Prospectus, Levine said: "If he came to us [and said], 'I'd like to play another season — what does that look like?' I think we're rolling up our sleeves and having a conversation with him. We are respectful of him, as to where he is in his life, and the decisions he and his wife will make."
Mauer, who is batting .275 with a team-high .353 on-base percentage and on Friday passed Rod Carew for second on the team's career hit list, said during spring training that "if I can still contribute, I'm planning to keep going [beyond 2018]."
A's call up starter
Righthander Chris Bassitt will be called up from Class AAA Nashville in time to start Sunday's finale with the Twins, the A's announced. The move is designed to give A's starters a day of rest in the midst of a three-week stretch without an off day, but it also allows Sunday's previously scheduled starter, lefthander Brett Anderson, to face the first-place Astros on Monday. Anderson has allowed only two runs and 12 hits in his past four starts.