Kenta Maeda leaves first start since Tommy John surgery after injury scare (Updated)
By Josh Hill
UPDATE [8:16 pm CT]: Rocco Baldelli provided an update on Kenta Maeda’s status after the game.
The Minnesota Twins trip down to Miami has been a mixture of highs and lows.
Minnesota walloped the Marlins on Monday, winning its fourth straigh game of the season 11-1. Joey Gallo hit his third home run in two games, and Tyler Mahle looked like the top pitcher the Twins hoped they had traded for last year.
But Max Kepler exited the game early with what was later called knee soreness, something that kept him out of the lineup on Tuesday. That game was similarly bittersweet, as the Twins bullpen — specifically Emilio Pagan — looked phenomenal again but the reason we saw it was due to a potential injury to Kenta Maeda.
Maeda was making his first start since coming back from Tommy John surgery, and was returning to action for the first time in two years. All of the hard work he put into rehabbing his arm seemed to pay off for the majority of his start, as he was absolutely on fire and keeping pace with Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara almost blow-for-blow.
Simply put, Maeda was brilliant.
Maeda finished his first start since 2021 having allowed just a single run on three hits and striking out nine. That’s what made the way he exited the start so upsetting, as the great performance he put in was ended with an injury scare that had Twins fans everywhere holding their collective breath.
Kenta Maeda injury update after leaving start in sixth inning with trainer (Updated)
Maeda was allowed to come back out for a sixth inning of work, but it didn’t last long. After giving up a base hit to Jon Berti to start the inning, Maeda winced and shook his arm, which caught the attention of Christian Vazquez behind the plate, as well as the Twins training staff.
For a guy coming off Tommy John surgery, that was the last thing anyone wanted to see and was immediate cause for justifiable concern.
For what it’s worth, it appeared Rocco Baldelli was smiling on the mound when talking to Maeda who looked like he was arguing to stay in the game. When he eventually walked back to the dugout, Maeda was seen rubbing his arm which erased all good vibes fans had gotten from the mound exchange and replaced it with concerning dread.
There’s a chance it ends up being nothing more than a giant injury scare, but Maeda wouldn’t be the first guy to have come back from Tommy John only to suffer a set back. That’s the absolute worst case scenario, and something we’re hoping is just our fears getting the best of us and not reality.