The Nelson Cruz trade netted the Twins two advanced minor league arms from the Tampa Ray’s top-ranked organization. Drew Strotman should get a start this week against Indianapolis. His last appearance, for Durham, came on the 20th, so he should be well-rested and ready to go. The other arm, Joe Ryan, won’t be in a Saints (or Twins, or other organizational) uniform for a little longer—instead Ryan will be representing team USA in Tokyo. After the Olympics, one imagines there will be a pretty strict testing and/or quarantine regime as well, further delaying his return to the Saints.
But, you likely will be able to see Ryan pitch in just a few days. Mike Scioscia’s American squad is set to face off against Israel (who is represented, in part, by former Twin Danny Valencia,) in the Group B opening round. Team USA is guaranteed to play at least three games — one against each of Israel and South Korea in group play, and then at least one game in the knockout round, against whomever from Group A finishes in the same position in their group. Unless Team USA finishes last in their group and loses the first knockout game, they will at least get a fourth game. Team USA vs Israel is scheduled for July 30, at 5:00 am central time. Game two, versus South Korea, is the same time on the next day, July 31. Set your alarms if you want to have a chance to see Ryan make an appearance. Scioscia does not appear to have announced his starting rotation yet.
Elimination games start August 1, and continue through the Gold Medal game on August 7. Once we know how Team USA fits into the bigger picture, we’ll let you know which ones to watch.
Other Olympians with Twins’ connections include Team USA outfielder Tyler Austin, who was part of the return from the Yankees for Lance Lynn; and Team Mexico reliever Sergio Romo. Scour the rosters—I may have missed a connection or two, and let us know in the comments if you find one.
In addition to Mexico, Israel, South Korea, and the United States; The Dominican Republic and Japan will also participate in the tournament.
Will you be watching Olympic baseball?
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