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.
A little while ago, the Blue Jays and Twins completed one of the craziest half-innings of baseball that you are ever going to see.
Blue Jays right-hander Steve Delabar entered the bottom of the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, but he issued walks to Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann before Eduardo Nunez moved them over with a sacrifice bunt. Sergio Santos, Toronto’s fill-in closer with Casey Janssen on the disabled list, then took over. And that’s when things got really crazy.
Santos failed to retire any of three batters he faced. In addition to walking them all, he threw three wild pitches which allowed three runs to score and put the Twins in front. Per Jesse Spector of the Sporting News, he’s the first pitcher in the live ball era to throw zero innings while walking three batters and throwing three wild pitches. Seriously. He threw just four out of 16 pitches for strikes. A night to forget for Santos. Oh, but it didn’t end there for the Blue Jays.
J.A. Happ took over for Santos and issued two more walks, including one with the bases loaded. Then we finally saw our first hit of the inning, on a two-run single from Jason Kubel. Happ walked Pinto before retiring Herrmann and Nunez to finally end the nightmare frame.
All told, the Twins scored six runs on one hit, eight walks, and three wild pitches to take a 9-5 lead. Glen Perkins tossed a scoreless top of the ninth inning to finish off the wild comeback victory and sweep the day-night doubleheader.
Per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, the last time a team drew eight walks in one inning was when the Rangers did it against the Orioles on April 19, 1996.
UPDATE: You can watch the inning unfold here. But I’ll warn you, it’s ugly.
Minnesota wasted little time finding a new veteran catcher, adding free agent Kurt Suzuki one day after trading Ryan Doumit to Atlanta.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Suzuki and the Twins have agreed to a one-year deal and the 30-year-old will compete with rookie Josmil Pinto for playing time behind the plate. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says the contract is worth $2.75 million.
Suzuki is a better fit than Doumit for the Twins’ roster because he actually has a good defensive reputation, whereas Doumit is truly a designated hitter with lots of experience behind the plate. On the other hand Suzuki hasn’t really hit since 2009 or so and was pretty brutal offensively for the past two seasons with a combined .234 batting average and .614 OPS in 212 games for the A’s and Nationals.
Minnesota would clearly like Pinto to emerge as the regular catcher and he has promising offensive potential, but Pinto has some Doumit-like question marks defensively and odds are Suzuki will find his way into Ron Gardenhire’s lineup plenty.