Monday, December 05, 2022

Rookie Joe Ryan named starting pitcher on Twins’ inaugural day


Fort Myers, Fla. Chris Archer has taken the ball four times on the opening day. Sonny Gray has won the honor three times before. Dylan Bundy has done this twice, most recently for the Los Angeles Angels last year.

And yet, when it came to choosing an opening day starter, the Twins settled on a rookie who would be making his sixth Major-League debut when he took the ball against the Seattle Mariners at Target Field on April 7.

That rookie is Joe Ryan, and when Twins manager Rocco Baldelli broke the news to him on Wednesday, he was later embraced by the 25-year-old.

“He earned us the opportunity to be there in the first game of the season, pitch opening day,” Baldelli said. “It’s still something that’s important to everyone in the clubhouse. I know every pitcher can have their own opinion on this special honor, but I think most people and most people involved in the game know that It’s a special thing. I think Joe was very happy to know that he is pitching for us on the opening day.

4 prospect in Baseball America per se, he may not have a lot of major-league experience, but he has his fair share of big moments. Last year, Ryan helped Team USA to a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While in Japan, Ryan received news that he had been traded by the Tampa Bay Rays to the Twins, along with pitcher Drew Stoutman, in exchange for slugging designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

He made a strong impression last time during his first taste of the big leagues, taking a perfect game in the seventh inning at the second start of his career. In his fourth outing, he dismissed 11 batsmen in five innings. Ryan posted an average of 4.05 earned runs in those five games of September, dismissing 30 batsmen in 26 2/3 innings.

He has yet to concede a run in two spring outings this year, scoring six runs in his five innings.

Baldelli said, “He’s pitched well from day one, when I’ve seen him pitch, and came to camp in a really good place, and put himself in good shape, and that’s how things fell for him. ” “The reason things are falling like this is because the player has done such a great job getting ready to go and he continues to go out there and pitch well all spring in all kinds of outings.”

Still, the decision was a surprise given Ryan’s relative lack of experience. Veteran starter Sonny Grey, whom the Twins acquired from the Reds earlier this month, was speculated by many to seek approval on April 7.

But Gray has been behind other starters in the camp in his build-up and has so far appeared in just one exhibition game – a minor-league game on Monday, while the major-league team had a day.

“The other pitcher, Sonny Grey, who has many, many achievements – of course he was an idea and part of this discussion,” Baldelli said. “But the way things have turned out and who was set up to do that, who was bowling the ball really well, who has proved himself to us in a lot of ways, that’s the answer for us this year. Which was. ,

And so next week, Ryan will become the first rookie to take the ball off an opening day debut for the Twins since Tom Hall in 1969. He would be opposed by last year’s American League Cy Young winner, Robbie Ray, who was announced. Thursday as the Mariners’ opening day starter.

“It’s something we think he can handle as a human. It’s a big deal,” Baldelli said. “It’s an honor to be out there, but it’s an honor that he’s earned and an honor he can totally handle, in everyone’s opinion here.”

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