CHICAGO — The Twins can take partial credit for a performance that was recognized with the American League Pitcher of the Month award on Wednesday. Which would be great if a Twin had won it.

But Sonny Gray, who allowed three runs in five April starts, and Joe Ryan, who won five consecutive games and never pitched fewer than six innings, were passed over. The award went instead to Yankees righthander Gerrit Cole, whose résumé included a two-hit, 10-strikeout shutout of the Twins in mid-April.

Not a big deal, said Gray, who won the award twice while with the A's in 2014, and Rocco Baldelli. "We're on to May," the Twins manager said. "Let's go win it."

Gray's statistics were nearly identical to Cole's, but the Yankees pitcher made six starts instead of Gray's five, and threw 5 ⅔ more innings. His ERA was 1.11, while Gray's was 0.77.

One thing that has made Gray's season go smoother: He and catcher Christian Vázquez have developed a good rapport, including their use of the PitchCom device, which has replaced traditional signals to call pitches. Vázquez calls each pitch, and Gray also carries a transmitter which he uses occasionally to overrule his catcher.

"I like the PitchCom. I didn't use it last year, but the transition was easy. We've got a good feel for it now," Gray said. "It's simplified the process of shaking off a pitch."

Hendriks cancer-free

Liam Hendriks wore the perfect T-shirt — STRUCK OUT CANCER, it read — to his news conference across from his old team's clubhouse on Wednesday.

The White Sox closer, diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in December, has completed an aggressive four-month program of chemotherapy and been declared cancer-free.

Hendriks, 34, will report to Class AAA Charlotte this weekend, and expects to return to Chicago's bullpen as soon as next week.

And he plans on being the same pitcher who earned All-Star berths in three of the past four seasons.

"I don't plan on regressing," he vowed.

Hendriks, a starting pitcher with the Twins from 2011-13, saved 37 games and posted a 2.81 ERA last season despite, as he now believes, pitching with cancer growing in his neck and hips. The lymphoma wasn't identified until December, but he first noticed lumps midway through the season.

"I looked like a dalmatian, which is not great even though we have one," Hendriks joked. "It turned out the lumps in my hips were actually bigger."

Hendriks said there was a chance he pitched almost all year with lymphoma in his system.

Kirilloff lifts Saints

Alex Kirilloff went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as the St. Paul Saints edged the Nashville Sounds 5-3 Wednesday at CHS Field. Kirilloff is a first baseman on a rehab assignment with the Twins' Class AAA affiliate.

Matt Wallner had a two-run double for the Saints in the eighth inning, when they took the lead, and Edouard Julien also had an RBI double.

Jordan Balazovic, the Twins prospect who suffered a broken jaw Feb. 11 in a late-night incident in Fort Myers, Fla., started for the Saints and pitched 3⅓ innings, giving up one run and one hit. He struck out six, walked three.


  • The Twins decided not to use closer Jhoan Duran on Tuesday, which is why newcomer Brock Stewart pitched a scoreless ninth inning. "We've had a lot of tight games, and he's pitched in almost every one. The last thing we're going to do is run him dry in April and May," Baldelli said of Duran, who appeared in 12 games in April. "That said, we're going to be turning to Brock in certain situations. It was a good spot for him."
  • Righthander Tyler Mahle was officially placed on the 15-day injured list on Wednesday, retroactive to Sunday, after experiencing soreness in his pitching elbow. He's not expected to return until June at the earliest.
  • Baldelli said he spent the off day Monday at a concert, which he's done before, but the performer wasn't one Twins fans might expect. Baldelli and a friend attended a performance of the Chicago Symphony, in order to see cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the special guest. "I'm into doing different things, and this was something that I really enjoyed," Baldelli said. "[Ma] was magic. It was a lot of fun."