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  • Lewis Thorpe's Return To The Mound


    Seth Stohs

    Two years, eight months and 19 days. A total of 992 days.

    On August 31, 2014, Lewis Thorpe threw four shutout innings for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. It was his last start of the season. Unfortunately, it was his last start until tonight (May 19, 2017) because he left that game with pain in his elbow.

    It’s been a long and winding road back for the talented left-hander from Melbourne, Australia, but on Friday in Ft. Myers, Thorpe made his return. It’s something he - and the Twins and their fans - has been awaiting for a long time.

    You can’t blame him if he was a little excited and anxious before the game. When he was warming up in the bullpen, he was definitely feeling it.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Lewis Thorpe)

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    Thorpe said he was “very nervous and had lots of emotions running through my head.”

    But he pitched well. The first Bradenton batter that he faced was shortstop Cole Tucker, and he struck out him. He got a pop up to the catcher and a fly ball to center field to end a clean first inning.

    The second inning was perfect for Thorpe as well. After one out in the third inning, he gave up a single. After a fielder’s choice, Thorpe picked off the runner for the third out. Nine batters faced, nine outs.

    Cole Tucker led off the fourth inning and hit a home run. Thorpe then responded with a strikeout, a ground out and another strikeout.

    That was it for Thorpe’s 2017 debut, but considering it has been nearly 1,000 days since his previous start, the 50-pitch limit probably makes a lot of sense. 31 of his 49 pitches were strikes.

    Thorpe noted after the game, “Everything was working well, and I had good command of all four pitches.”

    It’s been a long couple of seasons for Thorpe. He attempted to rehab the partially torn UCL. He had Tommy John surgery in April of 2015. There was the rehab from the shoulder injury, and there were some other setbacks in his return.

    “There’s always going to be some tough times when you rehab for two years. I think I handled myself pretty well overall. There were some times when I got really down, but I got through it.”

    As we know, there are several people in the Twins organization that Thorpe could talk to during his elbow rehab because they have been through it too. That kind of support is helpful. But Thorpe spoke of a lot of support he has received along the way.

    “Everyone including my family, coaches and teammates have been a huge support for me. It was a tough two years, but I’m finally back.”

    There is a lot of similarity between the return of Thorpe and last year’s return of Fernando Romero. Romero had missed about two years following his Tommy John surgery. His first start last year came on May 20th. Romero was shut down, missing only one start at the end of the season. Romero made 16 total starts a year ago, five in Cedar Rapids and nine in Ft. Myers. He didn’t throw more than 82 pitches until his eighth start. He worked a total of 90.1 innings on the year.

    We shall see if the Twins have Thorpe follow a similar path through the 2017 season. Despite not making a start for nearly 1,000 days (have I mentioned that?), Thorpe will not turn 22 years old until late November. His future remains bright.

    But he’s not thinking too far into the future. He is keeping his goals simple, to “just continue to throw the ball well and have fun out there. Staying healthy is going to be tough too.”

    Twins fans should be very excited about the return of Lewis Thorpe to the mound. He was a Top 10 Twins prospect by many (even most) publications.

    Henry Bonilla is the Miracle pitching coach. He pitched seven seasons in the Twins system, and three more in the Angels organization. This is now his sixth season as a coach in the Twins organization, his second with the Miracle. He was impressed by how Thorpe handled himself.

    "I'm really proud of how he controlled his emotions. Personally, Friday night, big crowd, against a first-place team, I would not be able to be as calm as he was. Or at least as calm and cool the way he did. Good first step after a long layoff."

    Oh, and on Saturday, Stephen Gonsalves will be making his first start of the 2017 season, for Chattanooga against Biloxi.

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    Despite young and at least a few years away, we all fell in love a bit with Thorpe as a very talented young SP in the system, a LH even, who might bring promise to performance at the ML level. But his injury, and illness, IMO, has taken his adventure to a different level for most of us. It's one thing to root for a prospect. It's another thing to wonder and worry about a prospect as a real human person having to endure and overcome.

     

    I'm really pulling for this young man as a Twins fan and for him to fulfill his early promise. But I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say I'm just pulling for him as a young man to overcome.

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    Tyler Jay threw in EXST on Thursday for 1 IP, Jake Reed threw 2 IP on Friday 96-98 mph 3K, Video coming.

     

    Stephen Gonsalves left the Fort Myers complex this afternoon shortly before the EXT game.

     

    Don't go to Portland. The world needs you where you are.

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