It’s conceivable, Kenta Meada believes, that his stay on the injured list could have lasted just 10 days, but the right-hander and the Twins weren’t inclined to take any chances.
Maeda, placed on the injured list on May 23 with a right adductor strain, also experienced arm soreness that kept him sidelined. After a one-start rehab assignment on Wednesday in St. Paul, Maeda is finally set to make his return to the rotation on Monday when the Twins kick off their series in Seattle.
“I wanted to take the time to fully recover and feel 100 percent,” he said Sunday. “I just wanted to take the time.”
The groin issue, Maeda said, went away more quickly than the soreness in his arm. The Twins put Maeda on the injured list after the groin issue had affected him in each of his previous two starts. It’s something that he’s pitched through in past years, too, and Maeda said during the days in between his starts, he’s undergoing treatments to try to keep the issue at bay.
In his rehab outing on Wednesday, Maeda allowed just one hit — a home run — in his four-inning start. After the game, he was pleased with his fastball velocity and said all of the pitches coming out of his hand felt great.
Coming off of a season in which Maeda was the American League’s Cy Young Award runner-up, he has has posted a 5.27 earned-run average in nine major league starts.
Kepler starts rehab
While the Twins await the seemingly imminent returns of Byron Buxton (hip strain) and Luis Arraez (shoulder strain), another key piece of their lineup moved a step closer to a return on Sunday.
Ten miles away from Target Field, Max Kepler (hamstring strain) began his rehab assignment with the St. Paul Saints, first serving as the team’s designated hitter. Kepler, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 30, went 0 for 4 in the Saints’ loss to Omaha. The Saints do not play on Monday, but the Twins also plan to have him see outfield action in right — and potentially center, too — before returning from the IL.
“He hasn’t been out too long. I wouldn’t expect him to be on a rehab assignment for more than a few days, but I think a few days could do him well,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Buxton and Arraez, who each played for the Saints on Saturday, had a day of active recovery and evaluation Sunday. Baldelli said before the Sunday’s game that the plan was for the pair to travel with the team to Seattle, where the Twins will begin a three-game series on Monday night.