Local columnist tells injured Twins to “suck it up and play”

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I’m told Ron Gardenhire spent part of today’s pregame media briefing angrily addressing Tom Powers’ column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Gardenhire ranted about it despite Powers not being in attendance, but after reading the column I can’t blame him.

Injuries have decimated the Twins, with Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Kevin Slowey on the disabled list and Justin Morneau missing six straight games with a flu that has also hit nearly everyone on the roster.

Powers’ column is devoted to telling the injured players to “suck it up and play” because “we’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags.”

Seriously. Here’s an excerpt:

You know what? This is getting ridiculous. Hey guys, just go play baseball. We’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags. Suck it up and play! The Twins have to quit babying these guys. Either they can play or they can’t. And if they can’t, get somebody up here who can. The problem is that guys walk into Gardenhire’s office and tell him when they can play and when they can’t.

To me, that’s a case of overcommunication. Unless the trainer specifically says a certain player needs to sit out, Gardenhire should just make out his best lineup and expect his players to go out there and perform. He has pitchers telling him they can’t pitch and hitters telling him they could use a day off. It’s April, for God’s sake. It’s not September. This garbage started in spring training.

Powers makes a decent point about the Twins keeping injured players on the active roster rather than placing them on the DL, which is something they’ve done for years now. However, any logic gets completely lost in the “get of my lawn!” attitude of a veteran newspaper columnist accusing an entire team of sitting out games with injuries they should be playing through and criticizing a manager for not forcing them to play, as if that doesn’t just lead to poor performances and more injuries.

But wait, there’s more:

“We’ve got a bunch of guys sniffing and coughing up there,” Gardenhire said, nodding toward the clubhouse. Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough? … The Twins’ approach to injuries can be summed up in three words: caution, caution, caution. How do you feel? Think you might play today? Want to give it a try?

Enough! Gardenhire needs to do what Vince Lombardi used to do as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Just barge into the trainer’s room, tip a couple of tables over and order everybody out. As Lombardi would scream: “Nobody is injured here!” Then write their names into the lineup and refuse to take them out unless the medical staff advises otherwise.

Criticizing players missing time with a team-wide flu by writing “Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough?” was almost enough to make me think the whole column was parody, except I’ve read enough of Powers over the years to know better. And really, an anecdote about Vince Lombardi screaming at injured football players 40 years ago? I’m sure Ron Gardenhire taking that same approach would go over really well in the Twins’ clubhouse and, obviously, knocking over tables will fix everything.

I’m ashamed of myself for even giving Powers’ column attention and clicks, but not nearly as ashamed as a veteran journalist with a prominent local platform and a large audience should be for writing that cliche-filled, rabble-rousing drivel.

Dodgers, Cubs could be interested in Justin Verlander

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.

The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.

Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.

We wait see.

A 30-year-old rookie won his major league debut

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The Dodgers beat the Twins last night thanks to a Cody Bellinger three-run homer. But Bellinger was not the only Dodgers rookie who had a notable game. A far more unconventional one is worth mentioning as well.

That rookie is reliever Edward Paredes, who made his big league debut last night. What makes him unconventional: he’s 30. Turns 31 in September, actually. Paredes pitched professionally for 12 years before making it to The Show. Most of that time was in the affiliated minors in the Mariners, Indians, Angels and Dodgers organizations. He spent time in the independent Atlantic League in 2013-15 as well.

Paredes did not do anything heroic last night. It was more of a right place/right time kind of appearance, retiring the side in order with a fly out, line out and a ground out and remaining the pitcher of record while Bellinger hit that three-run homer. That’s enough for a W, though. A W that Paredes waited a lot longer for than most pitchers who notch one in the bigs.