A couple of extras from an extra-long day at Target Field:
It doesn’t seem fair that Aaron Slegers becomes the only Twins pitcher this year other than Ervin Santana or Jose Berrios to pitch at least six innings and allow just two hits, and his reward for such excellence is a plane ticket back to Rochester. But that’s the life of the “26th man,” called up just to help a pitching staff cope with a two-game day.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said after the game that Slegers will be returning to the Red Wings — “for now.” There’s little reason not to, given that he couldn’t pitch until next Tuesday anyway, so it wouldn’t make sense to drop another player to keep him around. But once next Monday’s doubleheader is behind them, and the Twins go back to sorting out their pitching rotation— not an easy task, considering Slegers was the franchise-record 14th pitcher to start a game this year — figure on the rookie to get a second chance very soon.
In the meantime, Molitor and the front office must figure out when — or whether — Adalberto Mejia, Hector Santiago and Dietrich Enns will get another shot. And what if Dillon Gee (or even Nik Turley) starts Monday and impresses? Or Stephen Gonsalves serves as that day’s 26th man, and matches Slegers’ success? The Twins’ rotation is a jumble behind Santana and Berrios.
Byron Buxton wasn’t sure that Robbie Grossman was OK. Their collision was harder than it seemed, he said. And when he got to the dugout, he feared what turned out to be the truth: Grossman injured himself while trying to catch Carlos Santana’s fly ball.
“You could tell it was starting to bother him a little bit more,” Buxton said. “It’s just a tough situation. You don’t want to see anybody get put out of the game that way.”
He knows better than anyone, of course, having been knocked out cold with a concussion while making a catch during a Double-A game three years ago. This wasn’t nearly that violent, just awkward. “His thumb hit my forearm. He had his thumb out, and it just caught me,” Buxton said. Grossman later described the blow as so freakish, “you could make that play 1,000 times and not have it happen again.”
Still, it’s a blow for the Twins, since Grossman’s on-base percentage is in the top dozen in the league. Doctors told Grossman it would take 2-4 weeks for the fracture to heal, and Molitor was hopeful that, while it may take a month for him to be able to throw adequately, he might be able to hit before then.
After all, Grossman lined a single with a fractured thumb.
Speaking of Buxton, he said Max Kepler called his home run before he hit it, putting the Twins in front for good. Kepler had slipped in the outfield, turning a Santana single into a triple, and “he said, ‘I’m going to get that one back,’ “ Buxton said. “Sure enough.”