Dallas Keuchel, Jorge Polanco getting closer to being with Twins

17 July 2023

The focus on Sunday at CHS Field was on a pair of veteran major league players and their quest to soon be in a Twins uniform.

Starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who signed with the organization in late June with the aim of resuming his big league career, started for the Saints and pitched six innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on eight hits. He struck out six.

Jorge Polanco, the Twins’ starting second baseman, made his first rehab start with the Saints and went 2 for 3 as the designated hitter in the Saints’ 5-3 loss to the Durham Bulls.

After four starts with the Saints, Keuchel’s earned-run average stands at 0.90, proving at the very least that he can get Triple-A hitters out. The former Cy Young Award winner’s deal with the Twins includes an opt out should the Twins elect not to bring him up by a certain date.

According to Keuchel, that date is July 21, which will be one month after he signed.

“I really haven’t talked to my guys or with the team,” Keuchel said. “I’m sure in the coming days we’ll figure something out. I signed here for a reason, and I’d like to still be here. But it is a business, so we’ll see how that plays out.”

Keuchel said he is confident he has shown enough the past month that he will get a chance to pitch in the majors somewhere this season.

“I had multiple offers on the table,” he said of his decision to sign with the Twins. “The worry about having a job or this or that is not there. It’s more, ‘Hey. I love competing and I feel good about getting outs at the big league level at a pretty good clip.’ ”

Keuchel was not as sharp as he was in his last start, when he held Iowa scoreless over five innings, but he continued to show the ability to work his way out of trouble.

“It was nine days since my last start,” Keuchel said, “and I was very fortunate to go six and get up to 90 pitches. I would like to push the pitches-per-inning to 10-12; six and 90 is not great. It definitely was the lack of a willingness to command the strike zone early.”

Polanco, who was placed on the injured list on June 10 due to a left hamstring strain, said his main goal right now is to get to the point where he is confident in being able to go all out without fear of reinjuring the hamstring.

“Then, my at-bats,” he said. “Getting my timing.”

Polanco, who said he has not faced any live pitching since he was injured, stepped to the plate in the first inning and laced a double to left-center field. He added a single to left in the third and later walked before striking out in his final at-bat.

“I feel really good the way it went today,” Polanco said. “I was seeing the ball really good.”

Polanco missed two weeks earlier in the season when he strained the same hamstring. “This one, we’re trying to make sure to strengthen it really good,” he said, “trying to get it as strong as possible.”

Polanco said he expects to continue to get treatment on the hamstring and do specific exercises for the remainder of the season.

He is expected to remain with the Saints through their six-game road trip that begins on Tuesday in Omaha. The plan, he said, is to serve as the DH for the first two games before playing second base on Thursday.


Outfielder Kyle Garlick missed the series due to personal reasons but will rejoin the team in Omaha. … First baseman/catcher Chris Williams hit another home run, giving him a team-high 17.

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