Willians Astudillo ran a handful of sprints in the in the outfield on the Wednesday before the Twins faced the Astros. All indications are that his hamstring strain is not serious and he will be back sooner than later.
“I think the progress is going well,” Astudillo said. “I’m feeling good. I don’t see why not, next week, I’m going to be ready to come back.”
Astudillo, batting .327 with two home runs and seven RBI, ran sprints for the first time on Wednesday. He hoped to get some swings in the batting cage on Thursday and then take grounders on Friday. He was injured on Saturday while scoring on a sacrifice fly.
“Simply, those are things that happen in the game,” Astudillo said. “I got injured, and I’m just assimilating to the fact that I’m not playing like I used to before. And I’m just trying to get ready to go back out there and help the team.”
Astudillo will travel with the team on the upcoming road trip to New York and Toronto — although he’s not eligible to come off the IL until the final game of the trip. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said it makes more sense to bring him along so he can be with the team since the injury isn’t serious.
“It is not something that we think is going to take an exceptionally long time,” Baldelli said, “and, on top of that, I think he’s very interested in staying with the team and traveling, and we’re also interested in having him join us.”
Pineda works on slider
The slider is an important pitch for Michael Pineda. Opponents batted .219 against it in 2015, according to BrooksBaseball.net, and just .187 against it in 2016 and 2017 — and 2017 is when he injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
It’s one thing to get healthy. It’s another to return to form. Pineda is trying to get his old slider back because opponents currently are hitting .333 against it. George Springer’s home run and RBI double on Tuesday both came off the slider.
It should be pointed out that opponents are batting .316 against Pineda overall, but the slider has been identified as a key pitch for Pineda.
“Two starts ago, my slider was not really good and I didn’t have really good command,” Pineda said after his outing on Tuesday. “After that, I’ve been working in my bullpen sessions, and everything’s getting better. [Tuesday], I tried to do my best. I made two mistakes, and this is a really good lineup, so you don’t want to make mistakes to those hitters.”
Baldelli said Pineda’s slider is good for stretches at a time — but is not at its best all the time. He believes it will become more consistent as Pineda distances himself from rehabilitation.
“Yeah, I think it’s coming,” Baldelli said. “I think it’s here, and then we battle to find it again. But when it’s right, we see it.”
• Miguel Sano began his minor league rehabilitation stint on Tuesday when he was hit by a pitch, walked and popped out in three plate appearances for Class A Fort Myers. He was scheduled to play in an afternoon game on Wednesday, but it was rained out and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Thursday.
Sano is expected to play a few games for the Miracle before moving on to Class AA Pensacola.
• Baldelli plans to speak with struggling lefthander Adalberto Mejia to make sure he doesn’t get down on himself. “We want to put him in the best position for him to be able to relax, be confident in what he’s doing,” Baldelli said, “and obviously he’s not throwing the ball as well as he is capable of so we just want to take a look at him from top to bottom and see what we think as a collective. I think it’s a big-picture discussion, but we’re going to give him every opportunity.”