Caleb Thielbar is ready to stop pitching into a mattress and start pitching to hitters again.
The Twins' lefthander, ordered to isolate himself for a week because he sat next to someone on the team charter to Anaheim who tested positive for COVID, was reinstated to the active roster on Saturday, ahead of this afternoon's game with the Pirates.
Thielbar never contracted the virus, but spent a week by himself in southern California anyway, looking for something to watch on TV and trying to keep his arm loose. "There was a park like a mile from the hotel," Thielbar said, and he threw into a backstop by himself once or twice. But he threw a few pitches in his room a couple of times, too, propping his mattress against a wall.
"Luckily, it was a big enough room," Thielbar said. "Normally, it wouldn't be a big enough room to do that without hitting your hand on something."
After testing negative for several days while his teammates went on to Oakland and then home, Thielbar was finally cleared to return to action. The Twins chartered a plane to carry Max Kepler, Kyle Garlick and a nonuniformed staff member, each of whom had tested positive, home from the west coast, but Thielbar, in order to prevent exposure, was given a ticket on a commercial flight.
He threw in the bullpen on Friday, and Saturday was deemed ready to return. Luke Farrell, who pitched one scoreless inning during Tuesday's doubleheader in Oakland, was returned to the alternate camp in St. Paul.
The Twins, after breaking their four-game losing streak with J.A. Happ's near-no-hitter on Friday, will attempt to put together their first two-game winning streak since April 7-8 with Michael Pineda on the mound, facing veteran righthander Trevor Cahill.
Here are the lineups for Saturday's game, televised on BSN:
A. Frazier 2B
G. Polanco RF
T. Frazier DH
Cahill RHP (0-2, 9.69)
J. Polanco SS
Pineda RHP (1-0, 1.00)