Twins rookie Joe Ryan had his choice of games in Tuesday's doubleheader against Cleveland. And usually pitchers — as the routine-based creatures they tend to be — would rather take the later game so as to fit in a full day of normal preparation.
But not Ryan. He opted for the early 2:10 p.m. start, leaving the Twins' 29th man, lefthander Charlie Barnes, to start the 6:40 p.m. game.
Ryan said he's historically pitched well in day games, joking he'd even take a 7:30 a.m. first pitch. That's because as a starting pitcher, he has five or six days in between games, whereas batters are grinding it out daily. He considers that a big advantage.
"If we're going to have a day game here, make sure I get to bed earlier, set myself up for success there," Ryan said. "So that one day that I have to go to work, that I'm ready, and I can compete at the highest level and just be locked in when other people might be a little bit more tired, not as locked in."
Ryan pitched five innings and allowed only one run before having to leave the game in the sixth after being struck on the right wrist by a liner hit by Cleveland's Myles Straw.
Ryan wasn't the only player with a bit of an altered schedule. Jorge Polanco was the designated hitter in Game 1, moving to second base late in the game and staying there for the second outing. Polanco is battling a cold, and the Twins have tried to give him some breaks where they can.
Gant to injured list
After lasting only 12 pitches and two outs into Monday's loss at the Yankees, starter John Gant officially went on the 10-day injured list Tuesday because of a left abdominal strain. Gant seemed to pick up the injury, which decreased his throwing velocity, shortly before Monday's game on the last few pitches of his warmup.
"I'm not in a ton of pain right now," Gant said after Monday. "I was feeling something throwing the ball, and you never want to push it too hard when something's not right."
The Twins recalled lefty Andrew Albers from Class AAA St. Paul as Gant's replacement on the 28-man roster. Albers has pitched in four games with three starts for this Twins this year and has a 7.16 ERA.
Cruz up for Clemente honor
For the second consecutive season, the Twins nominated Nelson Cruz for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes the major leaguer who "best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions" on and off the field.
The designated hitter is the Twins' nominee despite his July trade to the Tampa Bay Rays. Cruz was a top candidate for the 2020 award, which ultimately went to pitcher Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals, but the ESPYs did recognize him that year with the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, as did his peers with the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award.
Another Twin earned an honor Tuesday, with pitcher Griffin Jax receiving the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, honoring the United States Air Force officer for his commitment to the military amid his professional baseball career. Jax is a captain in the Air Force Reserve, the only Air Force Academy graduate to play in the majors.
The Twins sat through a lengthy team meeting Tuesday, the topic all about travel. With the Twins' three-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, everyone making the trip has to be up to date with all of Canada's rules to enter the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not all players are vaccinated, meaning there are different guidelines for each group. Everyone had to test Tuesday and will again on Friday, as the country mandates two negative tests in order to play. The team hasn't been through such widespread testing since reaching the 85% vaccination threshold early in the season.
All that on top of the usual paperwork of sorting out everyone's passports and visas from various different countries of origin.