DETROIT – This year, even the rainouts are a debacle.
The Twins and Tigers gathered at Comerica Park amid a thunderous rainstorm Friday, in hopes of resuming a season interrupted Thursday by their one-day strike to protest police violence against African-Americans. About an hour after the doubleheader was scheduled to begin, they gave up and decided to try again Saturday.
Naturally, the skies began clearing almost immediately.
The afternoon turned out to be sunny and mostly dry, and both games likely would have been played without interruption. It’s possible that Comerica Park’s outfield might have needed some time to drain completely, after large pools of standing water developed for several minutes when the grounds crew removed it briefly to offload the morning’s rain. And both teams were clearly uncomfortable with the possibility of a sudden squall causing them to cut short a starting pitcher’s outing, as evidenced by their decision to change their pitching plans during the delay.
But weather was not an obstacle to playing Friday, practically from the moment the teams decided it was.
“We knew it would be a challenging day coming here and playing two, [but] it’s our job to get ready and do the best we can,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who plans to stick with Randy Dobnak in the first game Saturday, but did not announce his second-game plans. “It makes it a very tough day of decisions.”
The final decision will create some history next week. The teams will make up one game on Saturday as a doubleheader beginning at 12:10 p.m. CDT, and the other game next Friday at Target Field, also as a doubleheader. The Tigers will be the home team in the second game of that one, believed to be the first time the Twins have ever batted first in their home park.
Assuming no rainouts, the Twins and Tigers — who haven’t had a game against each other yet — will play eight games in the next 10 days.
The discussions within the Twins clubhouse that led to the unanimous decision to forgo playing Thursday’s game were powerful and “extremely eye-opening,” veteran lefthander Rich Hill said Friday. “Hearing about the different situations where people are pulled over and in multiple different situations having guns drawn on them — having to listen to this is difficult.”
Hill said he and his teammates were resolute in joining other pro sports teams in taking a symbolic stand in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wis., “but the next step is, how do things change? Because we can continue to talk about it, but it just seems like you don’t want it to be pushed to the side and then circle back and then within — what has it been, three months since George Floyd? — here we are again,” Hill said. “Symbolism and the choice not to play yesterday is one thing, but how do we impact that change?”
As for his team, Hill credited Baldelli with creating a supportive clubhouse atmosphere. “His empathy and his availability for every player to voice their opinion on how strongly they feel about any topic, especially where we were yesterday and where we will be moving forward, has been incredible,” Hill said. “His words were extremely powerful.”
Minaya on board
Juan Minaya built a 3.93 ERA in 128⅓ career innings with the White Sox, so the Twins believe he could be an effective option in their bullpen. On Friday, they decided to find out, adding the 29-year-old righthander to their roster.
“We’ve seen him throw in the past. He’s got good stuff,” Baldelli said. “He’s also a great guy and teammate to add to the clubhouse.”
To make room, the Twins cut journeyman lefthander Danny Coulombe, though Baldelli said he hopes the reliever chooses to remain in the organization on their St. Paul reserve squad. Coulombe, who has also seen time over six seasons with the Dodgers and A’s, appeared in two games for the Twins, allowing no runs in 2⅔ innings.
Friday was Jackie Robinson Day around MLB, and the Twins are likely to wear his No. 42 on Saturday instead.
“Jackie Robinson Day, for me personally, is one of the absolute great days that we get to spend at the ball field,” Badelli said. “The context in which you think about everything has changed since we did this last year, wearing No. 42.
“As we grow older, we learn a lot, experience a lot, and our perceptions change. The amount of growth, just through the number of challenges and the number of different things that have gone on just in this last year, it’s going to improve us as a group. … We’re going to appreciate this day more than we ever have before.”
• Lefthander Lewis Thorpe is the extra player added to the Twins roster for the doubleheader; he is eligible for both games.
• Center fielder Max Kepler’s right foot is bruised but otherwise fine, Baldelli said, and he would have been in Thursday’s lineup had the game been played.