Jose Berrios walked to Target Field ahead of Thursday's game, taking in the city he called home not too long ago.
Berríos had played for the Twins since 2016 until his July 30 trade to the Toronto Blue Jays. He'll pitch as a visitor in Minneapolis for the first time Friday, the second game of his team's four-game series against the Twins.
"It's different, obviously, but it was very special," Berríos said of his literal walk down memory lane. "I enjoyed it."
Berríos was able to let some of those emotions out on the mound already, as he pitched against his former teammates Sunday in Toronto. He had lunch with some of the Twins the Friday before his start.
Back in Minnesota for a weekend now, Berríos already planned his cheat day for Sunday, so he can eat some of his favorite Twin Cities food before he departs again.
"I already ordered food for my teammates," Berríos said, referencing the local burgers his Blue Jays compatriots will sample, "… trying to give them something special from Minnesota."
Gant nearing return
John Gant threw a bullpen session Thursday at Target Field, preparing for a possible return from the 10-day injured list before the end of the season.
The starting pitcher left the Sept. 13 game at the New York Yankees after throwing just a dozen pitches, citing a lower abdominal strain. The righthander is 1-3 this season with a 4.73 ERA after coming to the Twins on July 30 as part of the J.A. Happ trade with St. Louis.
"We'll see if he potentially is going to be ready to line up at some point back in our rotation," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He obviously won't be as stretched out if or when that becomes the case, but we've been pretty pleased with what we've gotten from just the point that he's progressed to where he's at now. It's a positive development."
The Twins have only 10 games left. But Gant could still return in the bullpen, his initial position until the Twins staff saw starting potential.
"The goal was to get him comfortable with our system, get him comfortable out there on the mound, get him involved as part of our group and put him in a position to succeed. And in shorter stints early on, that's where we thought that fit best," Baldelli said. "I think he's gone out there and proved himself a little bit. … When Wes [Johnson, pitching coach] comes to me enthusiastic about a plan and would really like to try something with one of our guys, my ears are open. And this was one of those things."
Throughout the four-game homestand against the Toronto Blue Jays, Twins fans will have a chance to see the top home run slugger in the American League. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., has 46 homers this season, tied with Kansas City's Salvador Perez. The Angels' Shohei Ohtani is close behind at 45.
"On top of being probably the best hitter that we're seeing in our game right now this year, he has the charisma that kind of goes along with it," Baldelli said of Guerrero. "So it makes it really easy to like him, pull for him and just want to watch what he does when he steps on the baseball field. I'm a fan of his. I enjoy watching him hit."
Guerrero is a Triple Crown contender, also leading the league with a .323 batting average and 10 RBI away from topping that category as well. That has Baldelli favoring him for the American League MVP honor. Ohtani, who also pitches and plays outfield, is another strong option.
"What Ohtani is doing this year is probably one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in my life, in any sport in any year," Baldelli said. "And I don't know any other way to say that. What he's doing is otherworldly. And I don't know if we'll ever see this again from anyone except him."