On the day Major League Baseball began cracking down on the use of foreign substances to doctor baseballs, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli pledged the organization would have a “zero tolerance policy” for anyone caught doing it.
“We’ve told our guys there’s no excuses here and that we are not going to take part in using any substances that are not allowed,” Baldelli said. “Anything that we are supposed to do and follow, we will.”
While pitchers have long used substances to get a better grip on baseballs, the practice has moved beyond that in recent years as pitchers, largely unchecked, have used different types of sticky substances to enhance their spin rates, and thus, performance. Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson was among those who spoke up publicly this season as offense around the league cratered.
Umpires will now be checking pitchers randomly — relievers once a game and starters multiple times. Anyone found to be using a substance other than rosin will be ejected and suspended, and teams will not be able to replace the player on the roster during the suspension period.
“Even if you don’t completely agree with all aspects of the way this has been laid out, that doesn’t matter to me,” Baldelli said. “I think we have to do everything possible to do this the right way and go from there.”
Donaldson (calf) participated in activities on the field Monday but was out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game after leaving Wednesday’s game early. Baldelli said before the game that the third baseman was “doing a lot better.”
Catcher Mitch Garver (groin) has gotten clearance to start doing more physical activity. Garver required surgery after being struck by a foul tip earlier this month and had mainly resting. Starting this week, Baldelli said he will begin jogging, throwing and starting to move around more. There still is no clear timetable for his return.
Baldelli also said Rob Refsnyder, who suffered “multiple grade two muscle strains” in his left leg, will start jogging soon and picking up the pace with some running, though he won’t be sprinting “probably anytime soon.” Refsndyer went on the injured list June 14 with what the team believed would be a two- to four-week injury.
On the minor league side, the Twins are examining imaging tests and discussing the next steps for top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran after he was placed on the Triple-A injured list on Sunday with a right forearm strain. He is currently shut down after exhibiting forearm soreness.
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said they may have an update on him in the next few days.
“That, right now, is being evaluated,” Falvey said. “That’s why I don’t want to get to that point until we get to a place where we have a good read on everything, make sure we’re not jumping the gun on any of it.”