- A ground ball to the shortstop for the first out.
- A walk.
- A ground ball to second base which was turned into an inning-ending double play.
That may not seem like much to get overly excited about, but for Twins fans, it was a good day!
For the first time since he was placed on the Disabled List on August 2, 2011, Kyle Gibson pitched off of a mound in a game on Tuesday morning. It may have been a 10:00 a.m. eastern time start time in the Gulf Coast League, but don’t let that minimize the huge milestone.
The Twins used the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft to select Gibson, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Missouri. He climbed the ladder quickly, and in 2010 was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year when he began the year in Ft. Myers and ended it in Rochester. He began the 2011 season with the Red Wings and pitched well for two months, but then things started going south. Although he pitched in the Futures Game a year ago, something wasn’t right. His elbow was hurting and after a stretch of rough starts, he was put on the Disabled List. An MRI in early August showed a partial tear of his Ulnar Collateral Ligament, and after rehabbing for a month, he had Tommy John surgery on September 7, 2011.
In early June, Gibson threw off of a mound for the first time and said it “went really good. Arm felt great!” He has gradually added more pitches to his mound sessions. Last Friday, he pitched some live batting practice. Following it, he tweeted that “it went about as well as I could hope for.”
Which brings us to today. It was just one inning, but for Gibson, it was another key milestone passed with flying colors. In fact, according to the Pioneer Press’s John Shipley, assistant GM Rob Antony said that Gibson touched 94 mph during his one-inning stint.
No one knows how players will return from Tommy John surgery. Pitchers like Tim Hudson and Billy Wagner came back in less than a year and were as good as ever. Others, such as Francisco Liriano, take longer to find their stuff again. Joe Mays was never able to regain his form. Knowing that, however, Kyle Gibson also knew and was aware of the path that Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg took after his surgery.
Strasburg had his Tommy John surgery in September of 2010. Kyle Gibson had his Tommy John surgery in September of 2011. Strasburg made his first rehab appearance in early July, as has Gibson. Strasburg got back to the big leagues in September. If all goes well for Gibson in the next month, it is very possible that he will return to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and be right where he was being his injury. Who knows? A September call-up also remains an outside possibility.
GCL Twins 5, GCL RED SOX 11
The Gulf Coast Twins are the only Twins affiliate that played on All-Star game day. They had a 10:00 a.m. start time. Gibson started and worked the first inning. Yorman Landa gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits and four walks in two innings. Hung Yi Chen gave up one run on three hits and a walk in his two innings. Markus Solbach gave up two runs on four hits in 1.1 innings. He was relieved by Trent Higginbotham who gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in 2.1 innings. Chris Mazza got the final out.
Gibson wasn’t the only player rehabbing in this game. Rene Tosoni led off and went 0-3 with a walk while playing in left field. Javier Pimentel was 2-4 with his fourth and fifth doubles. Jose Ramirez went 2-3. Kelvin Ortiz went 2-4. Kelly Cross was 2-5.
Games Scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, 2011
Rochester Red Wings – All Star Game (Pedro Florimon)
New Britain Rock Cats – All Star Game (BJ Hermsen, Chris Herrmann, Daniel Turpen)
Ft. Myers @ Clearwater – RHP Tom Stuifbergen
Beloit @ Ft. Myers – TBD
Elizabethton @ Greeneville – TBD
GCL Twins @ GCL Orioles - TBD