Twins starter Jake Odorizzi dealing with back tightness

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Mar 30, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (12) throws a pitch in the top of the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Jake Odorizzi was scheduled to start in the Twins’ intrasquad game Sunday at Target Field, but was replaced by Randy Dobnak because of mild upper-back tightness, according to manager Rocco Baldelli.

Baldelli described it as a day-to-day situation for the veteran, who is the Twins’ No. 2 starter behind Jose Berrios. Berrios will get the ball on Friday against the White Sox in the Twins’ opener in Chicago.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to be just fine going into the first full week of the season,” Baldelli said. “I can’t tell you exactly, as we sit here right now, what day he’s going to end up out there pitching. But he did play long toss. He’s doing all right. But we’re  going to treat it as a day-to-day (situation) and basically go from there.”

Baldelli said he wasn’t sure when Odorizzi first felt the stiffness in his back, but said the righthander has mentioned it as something that he’s dealt with for a couple of days.

“He said, ‘There are times where I don’t feel it at all, I think I’m perfectly fine, is it just in my mind?'” Baldelli said. “Where you get in that in-between kind of state where it’s like it’s a minor issue. You feel something, then it goes away for a little while. I can completely relate to what he’s describing. I don’t think this is any type of long term consideration.”

Baldelli said the Twins aren’t prepared to “make any official calls” for the starting rotation after Opening Day, but it certainly sounds as if Odorizzi’s first start might not be in the second game against the White Sox. Odorizzi went 15-7 last season with a 3.51 ERA in 30 starts.

“I think it’s clear, just the way that we’ve stretched numerous guys out, that we have plenty of options,” Baldelli said. “We can leave some guys in the spots where they have been throwing and basically move one or two guys around to fill those spots in the rotation. We’ve spoken with all of our starters. I think they’re all very much ready to go regardless of what spot they pitch in. We’re going to fill in some of those innings with some guys that might have started the season in our bullpen, but guys that we knew we were going to rely on throughout this season. Then the second time around, through the rotation, hopefully, we’re not talking about these particular situations and Odo’s back in there ready to go.”

  • Miguel Sano, who was cleared to play last week after dealing with the coronavirus, got into his first intrasquad game of summer camp and went 0-for-2, striking out twice, with a walk. Sano was used at his new position, first base, and did not have any miscues at that spot. The one thing that is clear is it’s going to take Sano a while to get his timing at the plate and that means the Twins will have a decision on if they want to start Sano at first base in the opener. “When you’re short on time, it’s really hard to do,” Baldelli said of getting Sano back into a groove. “You also can overwork a guy to get him back into game shape in the box. There’s no real magic formula. … You need to see the pitches, you do need to put swings on the ball.” Baldelli admitted that if Opening Day was on Monday, Sano probably would not be in the lineup.
  • The Twins released righthander Jhoulys Chacin after the pitcher requested to be let go. Chacin signed a minor league deal with the Twins in February that contained an out clause allowing him to become a free agent. Chacin, 32, had pitched in the big leagues since 2009 and went 3-12 with a 6.01 ERA in 25 games and 24 starts last season with Milwaukee and Boston.