Twins' Joe Ryan in long sleeves so rivals can't read his muscles

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If you’ve been wondering why Joe Ryan insists upon wearing long sleeves when he pitches on hot, humid days, here’s your answer.

“I was getting picked,” he said.

Inadvertently tipping his pitches. Very inadvertently.

“The main thing is, for a lot of guys,” Twins rotation mate Pablo López explained, “When they switch pitches, you can see the muscles in the forearm flaring up — when you start searching for the right grip.”

For time out of mind, manager Rocco Baldelli said, there have been players who pride themselves on using every detail to help them at the plate, and that includes watching a pitcher’s forearm for a clue as to what pitch might be coming. Now, it’s more institutional.

“As time has gone on,” Baldelli said, “some teams have put a lot of energy into studying the opposing pitcher to the point where you know every flinch, every tongue, every finger that’s poking in a different direction, where the eyes are looking. All kinds of different things.”

In a 6-0 victory over Boston on June 22, Ryan (8-5, 3.42 ERA) became the first Twins pitcher to throw a complete game since Jose Berrios did it June 7, 2018. In Monday’s 8-4 victory over Kansas City, he gave up two runs on six hits and a walk over six innings while fanning nine.

Baldelli said few hitters these days are equipped to read a pitcher’s forearm from the box and immediately adjust.

“They have no ability to use things like that and it just complicates the situation,” he said. “And there are other hitters that have made careers out of using these things to their advantage.”

The best — only? — way to avoid the forearm “tell” is to cover it entirely. Which is why Ryan, a California jeans and T-shirt guy if there ever was one, is ducking into the air conditioning to cool off between innings this summer.

“It’s a huge thing around the league,” the right-hander said. “We found out about it (at the) end of the year last year, so I started wearing sleeves.”

Before Tuesday’s 1:10 p.m. first pitch against the Royals at Target Field, the Twins activated reliever Jorge López from the injured list. The right-hander was placed there on June 18 for mental health reasons.

“I’m excited. I’m really pumped,”  López said. “These 15 days, they were something really good for me, to take advantage to be here today and be back to where I want to be. I’m just glad to be back with the team.”

Baldelli said he wanted López, a high-leverage arm for the Twins since being acquired at the 2022 trade deadline, to ease back into action with some less intense innings, and he immediately got a chance in Tuesday’s 9-3 victory over Kansas City at Target Field.

With the Twins leading 9-2 after the eighth inning, Baldelli put López on the mound to close the game. Lopez gave up a single and double to Maikel Garcia and Bobby Witt Jr., and Nick Pratto followed with a sacrifice fly deep to the wall in right-center. But López ended the game by getting Salvador Perez to hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

López hadn’t pitched in a game since he gave up three runs on five hits in two innings of an 8-4 loss to Detroit on June 15, but he kept a regular throwing schedule and pitched live batting practice while on the IL.

“I think it was a good spot for him to get in there,” Baldelli said. “Stuff looked very good from where I was sitting. I was really pleased with what I saw. He stayed composed out there, made pitches and, ultimately, ended the game for us and did all the things that you’re hoping to see him do.”

To make room for López on the active roster, the Twins optioned right-hander Brent Headrick to Class AAA St. Paul. Headrick (2-0, 5.40) gave up a game-tying home run to Pratto on Monday.


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