Joe Ryan knew he could be traded. For the top prospect of a competitive team like the Tampa Bay Rays, that phenomenon is always present.
So receiving the call that he was traded in as part of Nelson Cruises’ package was no shock in itself. But getting it 6,000 miles from home while competing for the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo is a slightly different story.
“It was definitely a wake-up call. When we arrived (Tokyo) on the first day, there was a good call at 7 a.m. to let you know you’re not going back to the same team,” Ryan said, Which was recognized as a pregame in the goal area. “It was crazy, but made it a little easier to settle for 20 days.”
Ryan was one of two newly acquired twins to compete for Team USA at the Tokyo Games, joining pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson, who was acquired in the Jose Berios deal.
Unlike Woods Richardson, who did not appear in an Olympic sport, Ryan was a contributor to Team USA’s silver medal.
Ryan started in the team’s first game, conceding just one run in six innings to be credited for the win. He also debuted in the United States’ semi-final game against South Korea, scoring a lone run in 4⅓ innings in a 7–2 USA victory. Team USA lost 2–0 in the gold medal game to Japan.
“Whenever you wear that jersey, it’s an amazing experience,” Ryan said. “… the weight of the situation in that first game was definitely clear. I don’t really remember the first five innings and woke up to the sixth inning and was able to enjoy the outing. And then pitching in that semi-final match was amazing. ”
Ryan returned Stateside early Tuesday. He’s since been recovering from jetlag and moving himself from the Triple-A site of Durham, Tampa Bay, to the Twin Cities. Ryan said he throws every day since returning and hopes to get out sometime this week.
Ryan admitted that he doesn’t know much about the twins. He trained as Kenta Maida in the off-season at a Los Angeles gym and spoke with him twice. He also remembers pitching against Max Kepler during a spring training game.
Ryan was at Target Field on Sunday and got a chance to meet the rest of the Twins’ coaches and players. He was also able to catch up with his former teammates from the rays and show off his gold medal.
“I guess it couldn’t have been a better time,” Ryan said of the twins playing their former outfit. “It’s an amazing group over there… definitely misses those guys, but I’m excited to meet the twins today. It’s going to be a great time.”
Reliever Jorge Alcala played the catch on Sunday as he worked towards returning from triceps tendonitis, which landed him on the 10-day injured list on 6 August.
Baldelli said the injury was “a bit intimidating” for Alcala, as it was the reliever’s first visit to the injury list at major league level. The team will take a wait-and-see approach before bringing back a third-year professional.
Alcala has appeared in 45 games for the Twins this season, with a 5.11 ERA (44.0 IP, 25 ER), 3–5 with 11 walks and 43 strikes.
“This, I would say, is one of the things where we need to make sure he’s healthy and pain-free before we start ramping it up. But he’s feeling a lot better,” Baldelli said. Said.
The Twins announced on Sunday that hitting coach Edgar Varela has tested positive for COVID-19. The team said Varela left the team on August 10 for family reasons related to COVID and later contracted the virus while at home in Florida. His test did not come positive during his stay with the team.