Jose Berrios was working with a three-run lead Tuesday when his concentration — and the game — was interrupted. A small drone appeared above center field, and the umpires quickly waved the Twins off the field.
“That was really crazy. I’ve never seen that before,” Berrios said after the Twins’ 7-3 victory over Pittsburgh.
“In my mind, I said, ‘Really? That has to happen right now when I’m pitching?’ I just tried to keep focused.”
After about five minutes — time that a few bullpen pitchers spent trying to hit the drone with a baseball, while the umpires conferred with both managers and MLB security in Target Field and in New York — the flying object disappeared behind the right field scoreboard.
The game resumed after eight minutes without incident, but the Twins, whose in-house security system first detected the drone, are taking the incursion seriously.
“Under FAA rules, Target Field is restricted airspace during a game,” said Matt Hoy, Twins senior vice president of operations. “It was just a small drone, and hopefully just a fan wanting to take pictures, but for security reasons, MLB doesn’t allow any drones around the park.”
MLB and Minneapolis police are investigating the incident, and the pilot is at risk of losing his license or even facing criminal charges.
When the Twins played host to the 2014 All-Star Game, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security used the event to test new drone-detection equipment, and actually tracked a drone that accidentally violated the ballpark’s airspace.
This one, coming amid an already unprecedented pandemic season in a park devoid of fans, seemed more bizarre than threatening.
“Definitely a 2020 moment right there,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “At one point, we thought we may have to wait until the entire parking garage [Ramp B, which abuts the park] was cleared because we thought, or I’m not sure if someone knew, that the droner was on the roof.”
Hill’s shoulder sore
Eight months after surgery, Rich Hill said Tuesday that his pitching elbow “feels like it’s 18 again.”
Unfortunately, the lefthander still has the shoulder of a 40-year-old.
The combination, Hill believes, is why he had a flare-up after his five-inning Twins debut a week ago, but it’s also why he doesn’t believe he will miss more than one start.
Hill was placed on the injured list Tuesday, but will travel with the Twins on their three-city road trip, and possibly pitch again near the end of it.
“I was feeling it in the back of my shoulder, really on the acceleration part of a fastball. Wasn’t so much with the curveball, but I felt it a little bit more with my fastball,” Hill said.
“Skipping a turn here and getting ready for next week, hopefully that will clear everything up and put this behind us.”
Hill compared his progress to the third or fourth week of spring training, when veterans begin feeling sore as they ramp up to regular-season form.
• The Twins didn’t immediately fill Hill’s roster spot, and might not, Baldelli said, since MLB rosters are going to be cut from 30 players to 28 on Friday. Mindful of coronavirus precautions, the team would prefer not to have a player fly commercially back to Minnesota after two games in Pittsburgh, or fly someone in from their extra-players camp in St. Paul. Meanwhile, multiple reports say MLB intends to use 28-man rosters for the remainder of the season.
• Third baseman Josh Donaldson, who has not played since suffering tightness in his right calf Friday, will travel with the team and “I would expect JD to be most likely playing at some point on this trip,” Baldelli said. “Hopefully sooner than later.”
• Cruz, on helping Miguel Sano fight off a slump: “Well, we’re close. Even after a game, we talk on the phone. “We locker right by. So even the days I don’t want to talk to him, he’s always there. . … Even [Sunday] night after he was out of the game, he was still hitting in the cage, [off the] machine, so that tells you how willing he is to learn and get better.”