Tyler Mahle's first pitch on Wednesday was a fastball that traveled only 86.6 mph. Nothing to worry about, though — his next three fastballs were clocked at 88, 89 and 90 mph.
"He always starts a little slow when it comes to velocity. I didn't think anything of it right away," catcher Gary Sanchez said. "But I did notice after that inning that his velocity [still] was a little down."
Rocco Baldelli noticed, too. The Twins have been closely watching Mahle since they addressed their shortage of reliable starting pitchers by sending three coveted prospects to Cincinnati two weeks ago for the righthander. He spent two weeks on the injured list in July because of the injury, and though he had allowed only eight hits and four runs in his first 12 innings as a Twin, the shoulder was not yet fully healed.
"Mahle's been battling his shoulder for a couple starts," said reliever Emilio Pagan. "He's a warrior."
But even warriors need velocity on the mound, and Baldelli and pitching coach Pete Maki were quick to notice that Mahle's fastball was still lagging in the 80s in the third inning. And when he began swinging his arms, an apparent attempt to loosen the muscle, Baldelli was quick to act, too.
"You saw him have a couple of movements where he was stretching something in his upper half and putting his arms up in the air, and moving a little bit. That was it," said Baldelli, who removed his starter with a 1-2 count on shortstop Maikel Garcia. "He was probably on the border of coming out of the game sooner than that."
After an initial exam, Mahle, who was not available after the game, was diagnosed with simply "fatigue" in his shoulder, but the 27-year-old righthander will undergo an MRI to make sure there is no structural damage.
"There was nothing acute bothering him. He had some general soreness, but didn't mention anything painful," Baldelli said. "He checked out relatively OK after coming out of the game. That being said, we're going to learn more today and probably in the next couple days."
Miranda's next stop
Jose Miranda's solid rookie season will have an intriguing carryover effect next spring, too. Miranda, who moved into fourth place on the Twins in home runs Wednesday by hitting his 12th, has been invited to take part in next spring's World Baseball Classic on Team Puerto Rico.
"It's the biggest honor you could imagine, playing for my homeland," Miranda said. "They called and I said yes right away."
He'll have a familiar face in the infield with him, too. Carlos Correa, who helped lead the Puerto Ricans to the championship game against the United States in the last WBC in 2017 — he batted .333 with three home runs during the tournament, but went 0-for-4 in the championship-game loss — has agreed to play again, too.
"I can't wait. It makes the spring training so much more fun," Correa said. "The games are really important."
Other Twins may be involved as well, but most teams have yet to finalize their rosters. The WBC will begin March 8 and conclude with the championship game in Miami on March 21.
Jayce Tingler was looking forward to catching up with Chris Woodward this weekend when the Rangers come to Target Field. Instead, he sent a hang-in-there text earlier this week, when Woodward was fired as Texas' manager.
"It's too bad, especially with so much time left in the season," said Tingler, the Twins' bench coach who was fired as Padres manager last October. "But it's part of this business."
Baldelli interviewed for the job that Woodward eventually got in 2018, but accepted an offer from the Twins a few days before the Rangers made their hire.
"I feel for Chris because I know him well and I know he does a good job," Baldelli said. "He's a very good human being and a baseball person."
The Rangers' shakeup continued Wednesday, when Rangers president Jon Daniels — who was Twins' General Manager Thad Levine's boss in Texas for a decade, until Levine came to Minnesota in 2016 — was fired after 17 years.
- Jorge Polanco's sore knee kept him out of the lineup for a second day Wednesday, but Baldelli said he is improving.
- The Twins shut out the Royals in back-to-back games this week for the first time since April 11-12, 2008, when Livan Hernandez and Boof Bonser were credited with the victories.