Ahead of an anticipated matchup against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson said he was encouraged by what he had seen in the past few days as MLB takes steps to crack down on pitcher usage of performance-enhancing foreign substances.
After four minor league pitchers were suspended last week after being caught using sticky substances to doctor baseballs, Donaldson called out Cole by name, wondering aloud during a Zoom news conference over the weekend whether it was a coincidence that Cole’s spin rate numbers dropped in his first start since that happened.
Cole on Tuesday was asked directly if he had ever used Spider Tack, a substance the league is trying to restrict and stammered through an answer, eventually telling Yankees reporters, “I don’t quite know how to answer that.”
Donaldson saw that answer.
“At the end of the day, time is going to tell what happens,” Donaldson said. “I’m not in his position so I don’t have to wear that when I sleep at night.”
Donaldson pointed out that the issue is widespread and said he was not bringing up Cole because he believed he was one of the top offenders, but rather that Cole was the first who pitched after the suspensions.
“I was not bringing Gerrit Cole’s name to the forefront because I’m putting him as the leader in all of this. He was the first guy that pitched after the suspensions. I saw that and now there’s been 12 other guys (whose spin rates have dropped),” Donaldson said. (Trevor) Bauer’s had to answer questions about it, too. You look at the spin rate drops with him and other guys and I think you’re going to see what’s happened. “
Donaldson said he spoke about the topic with Bauer when the two were teammates in Cleveland in 2018. Bauer, who was a college teammate of Cole’s at UCLA, insinuated in a tweet that year that Astros pitchers, Cole included, were doctoring baseballs. Donaldson said Bauer gave him insight on the topic, which he said he didn’t fully understand at the time because it was new.
Since speaking out, Donaldson said he has heard from probably 10 to 15 players from other teams.
“Nobody is speaking up for the hitters right now,” Donaldson said. “It’s probably not going to be (taken) as serious as if it’s a rookie or somebody else who doesn’t have the time in the big leagues. I felt it was almost (a) responsibility for me to say something with this. That’s how serious I think it is.”
Luis Arraez took batting practice on the field for the first time since landing on the injured list. Arraez injured his shoulder May 22 in the first inning trying to steal a base and played through pain in both that game and the next.
“My next game was super bad,” he said. “I wanted to hit, but I can’t. I couldn’t swing the bat. I felt so bad. When I missed some pitches, I started crying a little bit inside and I said, ‘I can’t play ball.’ I needed to finish the game. We won the game.”
Arraez hasn’t played since then, but he appeared to be the happiest man at Target Field pregame as he participated in baseball activities. Arraez believes he’s ticketed for a rehab assignment at Triple-A St. Paul in “I think a couple of days.” He said he wanted to play a couple of games there before returning.
As for the slide he hurt himself on?
It’ll be feet first from now on.
“I’m not sliding any more with my hands,” he said. “No more.”
Garlick to IL
The Twins put an outfielder on the injured list on Wednesday — just not the one people expected.
Kyle Garlick landed on the IL on Wednesday with a sports hernia. While manager Rocco Baldelli said it does not appear to be a surgical issue, it’s something that Garlick had been dealing with but felt more Tuesday night.
“He made a move in the outfield during the game last night after a ball and felt it,” Baldelli said. “… There was no real trauma on the play. It’s just something that he felt.”
Baldelli suggested that there was a chance that Rob Refsnyder, who left Tuesday night’s game with left hamstring tightness, might not need a stint on the injured list, though he said pregame that Refsnyder was “not probably going to be available to do a ton,” on Wednesday.
“There’s a chance we’re able to hold off for a little while, maybe get him back without having to put him on the IL. But there’s always that chance that when dealing with a hamstring injury, we’re just not going to have the time to do it,” Baldelli said. “We’re low on available 40-man players. Just frankly, just flat-out numbers, we just don’t even have too many options left on the 40-man.”
The Twins recalled center fielder Gilberto Celestino as the corresponding move.
Cody Stashak was placed on the major-league injured list with a left back disc injury. Stashak had been optioned to Triple-A but had not pitched a game there.