It’s unlikely the Twins will welcome back Kenta Maeda from the injured list during the regular season, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey informed reporters (including Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com). While Maeda hasn’t suffered any kind of setback, it seems the organization is just running out of time to get him back on a major league mound.
Maeda underwent an internal brace Tommy John surgery last September, making it viable that he’d miss the entire 2022 campaign. He and the Twins had expressed hope he’d be able to make it back to the mound in September this year, with the internal brace procedure having a slightly more expedited recovery timeline (around 9-12 months) than a typical complete UCL reconstruction. Maeda has been throwing bullpen sessions but hasn’t yet started out on a minor league rehab assignment. He’d surely need multiple weeks to build back up in the minors, and with just five weeks remaining in the regular season, the Twins are apparently disinclined to push him back.
The mention of Maeda not returning in the regular season at least leaves open the possibility of a playoff comeback. Minnesota sits two games back of the Guardians in the AL Central race. They’re firmly in the mix for a postseason spot but far from a lock, so it’s possible Maeda won’t have any playoff games to target. If the Twins do reach the postseason, that’d extend the window for his potential return, although there’d be real risk in installing a player who hasn’t thrown a big league pitch in 14 months directly into a playoff series. It seems more likely that 2022 will wind up going down as a lost year entirely for Maeda. He’s under contract for a modest $3MM next season, and the Twins will presumably pencil him into the season-opening rotation if he has a normal offseason.
While the news on Maeda is a bit discouraging, the Twins provided positive updates on both right-hander Bailey Ober and outfielder Trevor Larnach (Park links). Ober, who has been out since June 1 with a groin strain, is set to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday. The club plans to deploy him as a multi-inning reliever for the stretch run, as building him back to starting would require too long a rehab stint. Larnach, who has been out since undergoing core muscle surgery in late June, is also expected to start a rehab assignment this week.