CLEVELAND – Six days before the MLB trade deadline, Derek Falvey says he expects to make some big additions that could remake the roster by this time next week.
A catcher with home-run power. A starting pitcher with strikeout stuff. A Gold Glove outfielder to shore up the defense. Even an MVP-caliber bat for the middle of the lineup.
But Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson are those pickups, Falvey said, so don’t expect much more than minor moves at the deadline, if that.
“Those types of talents, you don’t acquire at the deadline, more often than not,” said Falvey, the Twins’ president of baseball operations. “You don’t get that kind of impact [in deadline trades].”
The Twins have built the American League’s best record despite a rash of injuries that have afflicted every part of their team. None has been season-ending, however, and Falvey is optimistic that a rash of returns is imminent now, too. He’s willing to listen to offers, but he and manager Rocco Baldelli quietly believe their soon-to-be-restored roster is championship caliber.
“I look around our clubhouse and see a group that has every angle covered. We have the ability to do everything that we need to do to win baseball games,” Baldelli said. “The organization never stops looking to acquire good talent, but we have a group we can lean on. We have depth in every area to cover what we need.”
Donaldson, who appeared in all seven games in July but has yet to play in August because of tightness in his right calf, has begun playing intrasquad games at CHS Field in St. Paul, Falvey said, and even batted against Pineda, the big righthander whose drug suspension runs out Sunday.
“He’s tracking really well,” the executive said. “I’ll be the first to admit that we’re being slightly conservative with respect to his return,” because of Donaldson’s history of calf injuries and of coming back too soon. Falvey hinted that the team will be ready to make a decision on Donaldson by this weekend.
As for other injury updates:
• Garver’s intercostal strain will take more than 10 days to heal, the Twins now realize. “We were hopeful, but he’s remained a little bit sore,” Falvey said. “He’s focused more on recovery right now than he is on rehab.”
• Buxton “came in [Monday and Tuesday] feeling much improved,” after injuring his shoulder while sliding last Tuesday, Falvey said. “He got some swings in and feels like he’s progressing really well.”
• Homer Bailey, on the 45-day injured list because of biceps tendinitis, has backed off his throwing program to let the soreness subside. But Falvey is optimistic he will return in mid- to late September.
• Reliever Zack Littell’s elbow passed several tests in the Twin Cities on Monday, and he feels much better. His injury could have been “a three-, four-day thing,” Falvey said, but the Twins put him on the injured list to give him more time.
• Starter Jake Odorizzi, struck by a line drive hit by the Royals’ Alex Gordon on Friday, still has bruises from the impact, but remained with the team and might not miss more than one start.
• Reliever Cody Stashak is throwing bullpen sessions and still dealing with occasional soreness in his lower back, which Falvey said is normal for a rehab.
Clevinger to start finale
Mike Clevinger is remorseful about breaking team rules designed to protect colleagues from COVID-19, said Cleveland’s fill-in manager, Sandy Alomar Jr., and the righthander will be given a second chance Wednesday when he starts the series finale.
Clevinger and fellow righthander Zach Plesac were demoted two weeks ago after the team discovered the pitchers had left the team hotel in Chicago to have dinner with friends, a violation of MLB’s coronavirus protocols. Clevinger made the situation worse by not admitting at first that he had joined Plesac.
“I guess both of them have remorse about what happened,” said Alomar, who is managing the team this week while Terry Francona recovers from health issues of his own. “They want the opportunity to prove that they changed. A little separation from the club helped, and it’s time for the healing process, and for those two guys to let their teammates know they’ve made some changes.”
Clevinger allowed four runs over four innings in Target Field on July 31, but he owns a 2.35 ERA over the previous two seasons in seven starts against the Twins.
• Lewis Thorpe joined the team here and has been added to the three-man taxi squad for this trip, in case yet another injury strikes. Catcher Willians Astudillo and righthander Juan Minaya are the other players traveling with the team.
• Shortstop Nick Gordon, who tested positive for the coronavirus just before training camp began last month, has been cleared to start training, but he won’t be joining the other Twins reserves in St. Paul. The team received permission to allow Gordon, the team’s first-round pick in 2014, to train at their Fort Myers spring headquarters, since most of his work will now focus on conditioning, not baseball.