Twins confident in group in place upon Wes Johnson’s departure
The Twins haven’t yet announced plans to replace him but bullpen coach Pete Maki and run prevention coordinator Colby Suggs are expected to assume bigger roles within the organization
CLEVELAND — Over the course of his career, one that has spanned 16 professional seasons across three different organizations, veteran Chris Archer has had a countless number of pitching coaches.
But there’s one he holds in higher regards than others. Though Archer just signed with the Minnesota Twins in March, he’s developed a quick bond with Wes Johnson, who he said over the weekend was one of his “biggest advocates.”
“He’s the best pitching coach I’ve ever had, top to bottom,” Archer said. “Analytics, biomechanics, instilling confidence, game plan. Every single facet you can think of, he’s been the best.”
So, how do you go about replacing a guy like that?
That’s the challenge the Twins are now facing with Johnson, who has been their pitching coach since the 2019 season and is headed to Louisiana State University for the same job. Johnson will remain with the Twins through the series finale in Cleveland on Thursday before leaving for his new job.
The Twins haven’t yet announced plans to replace him — and are still working through exactly what it will look like upon his departure — but bullpen coach Pete Maki and run prevention coordinator Colby Suggs are expected to assume bigger roles within the organization. It’s possible that the Twins also bring in an additional person from within the organization to help fulfill some other duties.
“It’s a pitching department, and I think Wes certainly was a lead in that, but there are other voices within that group that are going to really help us going forward,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We’ll continue to to navigate that. We’re team first. There’s no individual, really any of us, and so that’s always going to be our focus and we’ll step into that role that Wes leaves open for us.”
Manager Rocco Baldelli struck a similar tone, likening the Twins’ pitching operation to a fully functional machine, where “it’s not just about one person.” Baldelli lauded the group surrounding Johnson and expressed confidence in their ability to step into new roles and responsibilities.
The manager said the Twins were “about as prepared for something like this” as they could possibly be.
“We’re not going to ask anyone to be Wes,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to make sure that we give our pitchers everything that they need, which I am highly confident we’re going to do, and we’re going to do it really well. There’s not even a question about that in my mind if we’re going to be able to do that.”
Larnach to have surgery
Outfielder Trevor Larnach is expected to have surgery on Tuesday in Philadelphia to repair the core muscle injury that landed him on the injured list. After undergoing the bilateral surgical repair, Falvey said the expectation is the return to play is about six weeks.
“That’s what we’re hopeful to get,” Falvey said of the timetable. “That’s what’s been reported to us but … probably have to do the surgery and get on the back end and make sure we feel good about how it went.”
Larnach said over the weekend that he first started feeling pain two to three weeks ago, and the discomfort progressively worsened. Larnach splayed out to make a diving catch in foul territory on June 19, and while he had pain before that, he said he started feeling more after it.
Devin Smeltzer will start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader and Josh Winder, the team’s 27th man, will start the night cap. … Jorge Polanco (back) participated in a full slate of baseball activities Monday afternoon in Cleveland and came out of it feeling good. He will be further evaluated on Tuesday. He is expected to be activated this week in Cleveland. … Byron Buxton was eighth among American League outfielders in the most recent all-star balloting update. The top six outfielders move on to the second round of voting.
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