DETROIT – Ricky Nolasco reported feeling a “spike” in his pitching elbow during his start on Wednesday, and the Twins sent the righthander back to Minneapolis on Thursday to be examined by team doctors.
Nolasco, hammered by the Tigers for six runs on six hits in his 2015 debut, said he felt some pain while pitching to Alex Avila in the fourth inning, but said nothing at the time. “He pitched to a couple more hitters, and when he came in, he said he felt a little soreness in his elbow,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He felt it on one pitch in particular. So we felt the prudent thing was to get him back to Minneapolis to see our doctors.”
Nolasco left Detroit on a morning flight Thursday, so the Twins don’t expect to know anything until late in the day or perhaps on Friday. Nolasco is expected to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam. “We’re hoping for a clean slate,” Molitor said.
Nolasco was sidelined for five weeks last season by a flexor strain in his forearm, but Molitor said it’s not clear whether this soreness is related to that condition.
“It’s important, if you’ve got some tenderness or pain, and especially a pitcher and his elbow, it’s good that he spoke up,” General Manager Terry Ryan said. “Hopefully we can take care of this and it won’t be anything that’s long-term.”
Nolasco, 32, was hoping to resurrect his career this season following a disappointing 6-12, 5.38 ERA debut season after signing a four-year, $49 million contract with the Twins. But his first start in 2015 was not much better; he retired only nine Tigers while allowing the six runs.
Monday starter TBD
With Nolasco likely sidelined at least temporarily, the Twins have a decision to make about a notable upcoming event: their home opener.
Ervin Santana originally was scheduled to have the honor in his first Target Field start as a Twin, but his steroid suspension scratched that. Nolasco slotted into Santana’s No. 2 spot in the rotation, which meant he would make Monday’s start against the Royals, but his elbow pain probably has canceled that.
Might Trevor May, who lost this spring’s competition for the starting job that went to Tommy Milone, be called up for that spot?
Too early to tell.
“If we have to go get somebody, we’ll make that decision soon,” Ryan said.
Meyer wins opener
Alex Meyer earned the victory in Rochester’s season-opening 6-3 win over Buffalo (and former Twins pitcher Andrew Albers) on Thursday, but he also walked six batters over five innings, while striking out three.