Twins’ Anthony DeSclafani set to start on IL, opening door for Louie Varland

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins were aware of the injury risk Anthony DeSclafani carried with him when they acquired him in a trade this January. After all, the veteran starter hadn’t pitched in a game last year after July 23 because of a right elbow flexor strain.

But it was a risk the Twins were willing to take on — he had, after all, rehabbed from the injury and entered camp in a good spot.

Now, they’re staring at the potential of a season without him. In the coming days, DeSclafani will travel to Texas to visit with Dr. Keith Meister, who will assess what the Twins are calling a forearm strain. In recent years, Meister has performed Tommy John surgery on starters Kenta Maeda, Chris Paddack and Tyler Mahle.

DeSclafani had been behind his teammates in his build-up after feeling some soreness in his elbow earlier in camp. He had finally ramped up to the point where he was able to throw in a game, competing in a minor-league tilt on Saturday. But he walked away from that feeling soreness yet again.

“All options at that stage are obviously on the table, but we just want to make sure we get a much better sense of where he’s at,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “Obviously, disappointing for him. He had a really good offseason. He was throwing the ball well early in camp. Things were tracking in a good direction, but it’s unfortunate that he’s dealing with the flexor soreness again.”

Tommy John surgery, which would take him out for the entire season, is the worst-case scenario. The best case would be some sort of option where he could rest, rehab and build back up to return at some point later in the season.

“We’ll do whatever we can to get him back. I still think he can be a very important piece for us this year,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Clearly, a tough time for him having to deal with this all over again. … We’ll get an opinion and see exactly what we’re dealing with. Before we can do anything else, we have to figure that out.”

DeSclafani’s injury opens the door for Louie Varland, who has yet to allow a run in 11 innings this spring, to step into the rotation. Varland made 10 starts for the Twins last year before returning at the end of the season and pitching effectively out of the bullpen.

“He has put himself in a really nice spot, and I think he’s prepared to take a place in our rotation from the beginning of the year,” Baldelli said of Varland. “He looks really good right now.”

Roster cuts

The Twins optioned both infielder Jose Miranda and outfielder Trevor Larnach to Triple-A on Monday. While they will begin the season with the Saints, they will both likely see major league time at some point in the season.

Miranda had offseason shoulder surgery last year after what essentially amounted to a lost 2023 season. He struggled at the plate at the major league level but tweaked his swing over the offseason, and Falvey said he was “swinging the bat better than he was a year ago,” this spring.

Larnach broke camp with the Twins last season but was eventually passed on the depth chart by Matt Wallner. He played in 58 major league games last season, hitting .213 with a .727 OPS.

“I think those guys are going to help us. They’re going to help us win this year. We’re going to have to call upon them,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to need them. We’re going to need them to be ready to play at a high level when we call them up. I assume that’s going to happen. You just don’t know when.”

Additionally, the Twins reassigned pitcher Jordan Balazovic to minor league camp. Balazovic, once the Twins’ top pitching prospect, was removed from the 40-man roster earlier this year. With the cuts, 41 players remain in major league camp.

Buxton scratched

Byron Buxton was originally in Monday’s lineup, but the center fielder was scratched with lower right back tightness. Baldelli said he took a “little tumblesault,” during pregame defense drills.

Though he did not play in the game, Buxton hit in the cage. The issue is relatively minor, and the Twins will see how he feels after Tuesday’s off day.


Zack Weiss, who is dealing with a teres major strain, will begin the season on the major league injured list. But the Twins hope to get him in rehab games close to the time the Triple-A season begins at the end of the month. … Matt Canterino is dealing with a shoulder issue and will start the season on the Triple-A injured list.

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