Yermin Mercedes caught some criticism Tuesday for hitting a ninth-inning home run off a 3-0 pitch from Willians Astudillo the night before. Oddly, it came from his own manager.
"Big mistake," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of the rookie's decision to swing at a 45-mph meatball from a position player with an 11-run lead, an unsportsmanlike act in his opinion. "It won't happen again."
La Russa said he took a couple of steps out of the dugout and yelled "take, take, take," when he realized that Mercedes, who reached the majors for the first time this year after a decade in the minors, wasn't planning to take the pitch. "The whole time he was running the bases, I'm out there [looking at him angrily]. I was upset, because that's not a time to swing 3-0. I happened to look over there, and I know the Twins knew I was upset."
They did, Rocco Baldelli said, but the Twins manager didn't exactly downplay the incident a day later, alluding instead to anger among his own players.
"We got that feeling from across the dugout that Tony and some people in the dugout were not pleased with what was going on. I appreciate that message," Baldelli said. "I'll tell you this — there's one thing acknowledging it, and that's appreciated, but it doesn't quell all of the emotions from all the guys in the clubhouse."
Twins reliever Tyler Duffey, pitching in the seventh inning Tuesday, threw behind Mercedes' legs with one out; the umpires conferred, and Duffey was ejected. Baldelli came out to argue, and he was tossed as well.
Before the game, he had a reaction to Monday's homer.
"I was surprised to see him swing, I'll be very honest with you. That being said, every team is going to make their own decisions. Some of the more traditional, kind of hard-and-fast rules that we would play by, some of them have gone out the window," Baldelli said.
Astudillo, making his third appearance of the season in a mop-up role, appeared agitated after Mercedes hit the home run.
But Mercedes defended himself later, saying "I'm going to play like this. I am Yermin. I can't be someone else, because if I do that, everything changes."
But La Russa said Mercedes will change. "There's sportsmanship, respect for the game, respect for your opponent. That's real and has to be the philosophy, and we follow it," La Russa said. "The fact that he is a rookie who was excited helps explain why he just was clueless. But now he's got a clue."
Pineda has cyst removed
Michael Pineda had a cyst on his inner thigh removed Monday, a procedure that Baldelli described as "more inconvenience than injury." But with nine games scheduled for the next eight days, it threw the Twins' pitching plans into disarray.
That's because Pineda, who needed a couple of stitches, will require at least a couple of days before he can pitch again, and Kenta Maeda's strained groin could limit how many pitches he is able to throw in his next start. With a rookie on the mound Tuesday and a doubleheader looming in Anaheim on Thursday, Baldelli is clearly worried about whether the Twins have enough bullpen help.
For now, Pineda and Maeda will remain on the active list, Matt Shoemaker will start Wednesday against the White Sox, and Jose Berrios and a St. Paul Saints pitcher — presumably lefthander Lewis Thorpe — will pitch in Anaheim. But Baldelli hinted that Maeda's status might change.
"We have to evaluate just what [Maeda] is going to be capable of. Regardless, we may be in spots this week where guys are going to have to give us 100 pitches regardless of how that particular game goes," Baldelli said. "We'll evaluate where we are as a group, and then kind of layer where Kenta's at on top of that."
In the meantime, the Twins designated reliever Derek Law for assignment on Tuesday to make room for Ober, and placed righthander Shaun Anderson on the injured list with a strained quad. Righthander Cody Stashak, who owns an 8.44 ERA in 12 appearances this year, was recalled from St. Paul to take his place.