There’s still plenty of time left in the day to talk about baseball, plenty of time to work through strategy and come up with solutions to help improve a last-place ballclub.
But lately — all season, really — much of manager Rocco Baldelli’s time has been consumed by the health report and the mounting list of Twins injuries.
“Normally we don’t have to do it to this extent,” Baldelli said. “Normally it doesn’t take most of the day and most of everybody’s energy.”
That injury report grew quite a bit longer after a cruel trip to Baltimore, one that was capped with a 6-3 loss to the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday night.
On Monday, center fielder Rob Refsnyder ran at full speed into the outfield wall, and the Twins put him on the seven-day concussion list two days later.
On Tuesday, Mitch Garver took a foul tip to the groin, requiring a surgery that will sideline the hot-hitting catcher for weeks — at least. Starter Michael Pineda noted forearm tightness, too, affecting him in a 7-4 loss to the team with Major League Baseball’s worst record.
And on Wednesday, reliever Caleb Thielbar was pulled with a groin strain. While there was some relief in finding out the injury was not related Thielbar’s arm, Baldelli said the lefty would “need some time down.” The Twins are not sure yet whether Thielbar will require a stint on the injured list, though if he does, he would join nine of his teammates. Baldelli also mentioned shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who got the day off on Wednesday, had some ankle soreness, though that was not perceived as serious.
“It sucks. It’s almost like every day, someone gets knocked down,” starter Randy Dobnak, who suffered the loss on Wednesday, said. “It sucks for them and it sucks for us. It’s a tough situation, but you’ve got to grind through it. We’ve got guys who we need to step up. Just try and stay healthy.”
Dobnak, who left 27 tickets for friends and family members who live nearby, worked his way out of a bases-loaded, no out situation in the first inning unscathed and wound up giving up three runs in his 5 2/3-inning effort. Two of those came in the fifth inning after walking a batter with two outs and then serving up a two-run home run to DJ Stewart.
“I hate walking guys. Normally bad things are going to happen when that happens,” Dobnak said. “And bad things happened.”
The Orioles (19-37) struck another blow in the seventh inning. Thielbar, who walked off the mound with assistant athletic trainer Matt Biancuzzo after getting two outs in the frame, was replaced by Alexander Colomé, who walked a batter and then allowed a three-run blast to Ryan Mountcastle.
The Twins (22-33), meanwhile, managed six hits in the loss, two coming from Jeffers, who was called up on Wednesday to replace Garver on the roster. Jeffers homered in his first at-bat and tripled in his third, bringing home Nick Gordon in the eighth inning.
A Jorge Polanco sacrifice fly followed and the Twins did put the tying run on base for designated hitter Nelson Cruz after drawing a pair of walks, but Cruz popped up to end the threat.
With three scoreless innings in relief during the middle of the game, Tyler Wells, who the Orioles plucked from the Twins in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, picked up the win. He faced many who were in the Twins’ system at the same time as him as injuries have opened up opportunity for prospects.
Wednesday’s lineup featured four players — Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino and Gordon — who began the season in the minors, as well as two — Dobnak Jeffers — who have also spent time at Triple-A this season.
“I don’t think you can ever let it become the narrative,” Baldelli said of the injuries. “I think you have to let it become kind of a conversation amongst our group of opportunity, and when you do find ways to have success when it’s not plan A or plan B or plan C and you still find ways to go out there and do it, it’s very fulfilling. I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of it. And that’s the challenge that we have to take every day.”