Phil Hughes' chances of pitching again this season got dimmer and dimmer Saturday. Glen Perkins' season is getting shorter and shorter. The interruption in Alex Meyer's season is getting bigger and bigger.
It's not just the Twins' record that's suffering these days.
The trio of pitchers all received bad news this weekend, and none will be on a mound again for at least the rest of June — and in Hughes' case, perhaps again this season.
Hughes, on crutches since J.T. Realmuto's line drive bounced off his knee, suffered a fracture of the femur, an injury that will take six to eight weeks to heal, and probably several weeks more to build up arm strength again, manager Paul Molitor said Saturday. A magnetic resonance imaging scan Friday revealed the break in the bone, adding yet another setback to one of the worst seasons of the 30-year-old righthander's career.
"It's been a rough year for Phil. Now he has to deal with a lengthy absence from pitching," Molitor said.
It's possible Hughes could return in September, just as Ricky Nolasco did last season, in order to prove he had regained his health. General Manager Terry Ryan is optimistic that he will. "He's going to be out for quite a length of time, but we'll still have season left" if the bone has healed by mid-August, Ryan said. "Everything would point to him being able to be activated. … But we won't rush him."
Even if he returns, though, it's been a disastrous season for Hughes. He suffered a nightmarish May, posting a 7.43 ERA in five starts, and lost his spot in the rotation. Then he suffered a serious injury in his first appearance as a reliever, and was helped off the field after cramping to the ground in pain.
"It's a pretty serious jolt that he took," Ryan said.
Perkins and Meyer experienced no such jolt; their pain is a more difficult-to-pinpoint discomfort in their shoulders.
Perkins cut off his bullpen session Friday after only 20 pitches, as the closer felt a renewed ache in his left shoulder. "He feels fine on flat ground. There's something about getting out there on the incline that changes what it feels like to throw a baseball," Molitor said.
Perkins, who had appeared ready to embark on a rehab assignment, will instead consult another specialist, though details of that haven't been worked out yet, Molitor said. There is no timetable for Perkins' return.
Meyer, one of the Twins' top pitching prospects, hasn't faced a batter since his lone major league start May 3. Now at Class AAA Rochester, he underwent an MRI this week that revealed no structural damage, just lingering inflammation. Meyer had been throwing bullpen sessions in hopes of strengthening the shoulder, but the Twins will halt those for the rest of the month.
"That's the good thing, there's no structural problem. Unfortunately, we're losing the summer here," Ryan said.
Wrapping up the draft
The Twins added 24 more college players among their 30 draftees Saturday, including 13 pitchers. But that emphasis on experienced arms didn't prevent them from adding Mark Wallner, a senior at Forest Lake High School, to the organization, too. Wallner, a righthander with a fastball that already touches 90 mph, was selected by the Twins in the 32nd round.
The Twins' first pick on the draft's final day, in the 11th round, was also a prep righthander: Tyler Benninghoff of Rockhurst in Kansas City, Mo. But then they embarked on a college-heavy program, a strategy that included Cal's Ryan Mason, a 6-7 righthander who won eight games for the Bears as a senior.
Over the draft's three days, the Twins drafted 42 players, including 14 righthanders, three lefthanders, nine infielders, 10 outfielders and six catchers. Of those, 31 have attended college and 11 are high school players.