Josmil Pinto, who’s competing to be the Twins’ backup catcher, will be held out of baseball activities for at least 4-5 days after being cracked in the head by Orioles center fielder Adam Jones’ backswing three different times during Saturday’s game.
Pinto left the game after the third swing hit him on top of the head and he felt dizziness and headaches Sunday. General manager Terry Ryan told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Pinto would likely have been placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list if this were the regular season.
Pinto is a good hitter with power and plate discipline at age 25, but his struggles defensively have kept the Twins from turning to him as a full-time catcher. Eric Fryer and Chris Herrmann as the other options to back up Kurt Suzuki.
One side effect of the Twins signing Kendrys Morales to be their everyday designated hitter is that it pushed Josmil Pinto out of the lineup and, it turns out, back to the minors.
Rather than keep Pinto around as a backup catcher the Twins have decided to send the 25-year-old rookie to Triple-A. Development-wise he’s likely better off playing regularly in Rochester than sitting on the bench in Minnesota, but it’s odd that the Twins benched Pinto for 27 of their first 64 games before they even signed Morales.
Pinto has slumped recently and his defense behind the plate has been predictably shaky, but his .813 OPS in 64 games as a big leaguer is the 17th-highest mark in Twins history among every hitter with at least 200 plate appearances, ahead of guys like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Matt Lawton, Chuck Knoblauch, Marty Cordova, Paul Molitor, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Kubel, and Tom Brunansky.
Pinto’s career on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS are also higher than Morales’ marks since returning from a broken ankle in 2012. He can hit, but for whatever reason the Twins played him sporadically despite having the DH spot available and then decided Morales was a worthwhile upgrade, so now Pinto is left to beat up on International League pitchers for a while.
After re-signing with the Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew went 1-for-14 and then injured his oblique muscle, but the other Scott Boras client who sat out the first two months of the season before finally signing, Kendrys Morales, is showing zero signs of rust.
Morales agreed to a one-year, $7.6 million deal with the Twins on Saturday, was immediately added to the active roster without first going on a minor-league rehab assignment, and is now 6-for-12 with three doubles through three games (with another at-bat likely still this afternoon).
Minnesota already had a pretty good designated hitter option in Josmil Pinto, but manager Ron Gardenhire was hesitant to use him at DH regularly because the 25-year-old rookie is also the Twins’ backup catcher. Now that Morales is the full-time DH it sounds like Pinto will be headed back to Triple-A. And so far at least no one minds, because Morales is hitting .500 and clearing the bases with game-breaking doubles.