CLEVELAND – So much for seeing Michael Pineda in a Twins uniform in September.
The righthander — whose last major league appearance was July 5, 2017, with the Yankees — has been diagnosed with a slight tear of the meniscus in his right knee, a setback that “pretty much eliminates” any chance of pitching again in 2018, Twins manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday.
Pineda isn’t the franchise’s only pitcher with such a prognosis. Adalberto Mejia’s treatment for a nerve-traction condition above his left elbow will take more than five weeks to complete, so he’s being shut down for the season, too.
Pineda had Tommy John elbow-ligament surgery 13 months ago and has been rehabbing his injury ever since. The 29-year-old righthander, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract with Minnesota last winter, has made five minor league appearances in the past two months. He had hoped to pitch a couple of times for the Twins in September in order to reacclimate himself with facing major league hitters.
That won’t happen now, “which is fine,” Molitor said. “It’s been a productive year in his coming back from his surgery. The biggest goal will be to try to figure out how to give him as much of the offseason as we can to be somewhat normal in preparing for next spring. Because we have pretty high confidence that we’ll be in good shape.”
Pineda reported an irritation in his right knee while throwing a bullpen session for Class AAA Rochester last week, and the Twins immediately canceled his Sunday start for the Red Wings and flew him back to Minneapolis. A magnetic resonance imaging test Monday revealed the tear in his cartilage, and Molitor said doctors believe the injury might be an old condition that began bothering Pineda once he ramped up his rehab and began pushing off his right leg again.
The Twins medical staff still is gathering information before presenting Pineda with his options about treatment.
“Obviously, some of them require [surgical] procedures,” Molitor said, though the team is confident Pineda can be ready by spring training.
Mejia, meanwhile, is done after pitching five major league games, posting a 2.01 ERA in 22⅓ innings. The 25-year-old lefthander also made 15 appearances for Rochester, posting a 3.27 ERA in 63⅓ innings, with 62 strikeouts.
“We’re going to monitor his progress,” Molitor said. “But it’s going to take more time that what we have left to get the [nerve] called to the point where we feel confident to have the ball in his hand.”
Shooting for .500
At 61-69 entering this nine-day road trip, the Twins need to go 20-12 to finish at .500 for the season. Coincidentally, they have 20 games remaining with teams with worse records than them and 12 games with teams that have better records.
Is an 81-81 season still a realistic goal?
“I still think about it. I have for a while,” Molitor said. “Trying to close that gap would be a nice way to try to finish. It’s good to still have goals, having somewhere you’re trying to get to. I think .500 sounds pretty good.”
Keeping the booth intact
The Twins have handed out a couple of multiyear contracts, but not for their roster. Corey Provus revealed at a Minnesota State Fair appearance Monday that he has signed a new three-year contract to remain the radio voice of the Twins through 2021.
“It’s great. It means I love it here,” said Provus, who will have completed a decade of calling Twins games by the time the contract expires. “My wife loves it. This is where our kids were born. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Provus’ partner, former Twin Dan Gladden — a fixture on Twins broadcasts since 2000 — is also signed through 2021.
• The National Baseball Hall of Fame contacted the Twins to ask for an artifact from Oliver Drake, who set a major league record this month by pitching for his fifth team in one season. The Twins obliged by sending the cap Drake wore Tuesday night, when he struck out the side in the seventh inning, to Cooperstown.