The hits just keep on coming for the Twins. Hits against them, not for them.
Wednesday, popular reliever Matt Guerrier was designated for assignment. Thursday morning, Kendrys Morales was dealt to Seattle. Then the White Sox took it to the Twins for a 5-2 victory at Target Field.
Righthander Phil Hughes took the biggest hit of them all, when Adam Dunn’s line drive socked him in the right shin in the fourth inning. Hughes hobbled around for a couple of minutes before being replaced by Sam Deduno. X-rays were negative, and Hughes is listed as day to day because of a right shin contusion.
Hughes (10-7) said it was the most pain he’s felt since tearing his hamstring his rookie year in 2007. “The way the rotation’s looking right now I feel a responsibility to get out there and not miss any time, and that’s what I’ll try to do,” he said.
Chicago scored three runs in the inning and never looked back. Hector Noesi (5-6) held the Twins to one hit through seven innings before giving up a two-run homer to Danny Santana in the eighth.
Now the Twins head into the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline wondering what else will happen to them.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has made up his mind. After watching his team play sub-.500 baseball into and out of the All-Star break, he has started to move some veterans.
One day after designating Guerrier for assignment, Ryan dealt Morales to Seattle for reliever Stephen Pryor. And it could be the first of a few trades before the trade deadline.
In 39 games with the Twins, Morales batted .234 with 11 doubles, one home run and 18 RBI. The Twins raised eyebrows around the league by winning a bidding war to land the slugger, who was a free agent after turning down a qualifying offer from the Mariners after last season.
But Morales failed to rouse a dormant offense. The Twins went 17-23 during Morales’ time with the team, setting the stage for him to be dealt.
“We’re at that time of year,” Ryan said. “We aren’t doing well on the field and we’re getting to the trade deadline area and there was interest in Kendrys so I thought it was wise before we get to the free-agent period later in the year, it would make a lot of sense to see what we could get in return. So that’s the reason, nothing more, nothing less. It’s that time of year.”
Pryor, 25, has — or had — a big arm. He broke in with the Mariners in 2012, going 3-1 with 3.91 ERA in 26 games out of the bullpen. There were reports of him touching 100 miles per hour with his fastball but settled in at 96-98. His 2013 season was interrupted by surgery to repair a torn lat, and he is still trying to get back his pre-surgery velocity.
He was 2-1 with a 4.65 ERA at Class AAA Tacoma, with his fastball around 93-94 mph. His one appearance for Seattle this year was against the Twins on July 9, when he gave up an unearned run on a hit and two walks. He has been assigned to Class AAA Rochester.
“A big guy with a good arm,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Twins players hoped to get off to a fast start after the All-Star break, but they have been the same old Twins, unable to marry their offense and pitching enough to creep within sight of the second wild-card spot. They entered Thursday 11 games back in the AL Central and 6½ in the wild card.
Their goal was to convince Ryan they could make a run. The run went the wrong way, and now they might have to brace for more trades.
“You think that [Morales] is not going to be the only one,” closer Glen Perkins said. “Whoever else is all speculation. I imagine that there are guys in the same situation — in the last year of a deal, veteran guys — that we will see moved. It is disappointing but that is how it works. We didn’t give them a reason to hang onto guys.”
More scouts have been seen at Target Field this week. Righthander Kevin Correia, outfielder Josh Willingham, catcher Kurt Suzuki and lefthander Brian Duensing are among Twins who could attract interest.
Gibson not ready
Righthander Kyle Gibson (sore back) played catch Thursday, but Gardenhire said, “The likelihood of him starting Saturday is not very good.” While Gibson will be pushed back to Tuesday, the Twins need a fill-in starter for Saturday. Lefthander Logan Darnell continues to be candidate.
Class AA New Britain infielder Jorge Polanco, who debuted with the Twins last month, was called up to replace Morales. He will remain with the team until it decides who will be called up to start Saturday. And reliever Ryan Pressly arrived from Class AAA Rochester and pitched two scoreless innings in his 2014 Twins debut.