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Kenta Maeda injury update: Twins SP exits after being hit in leg by line drive

The Twins starter, who’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, was forced to leave Thursday’s game against the Red Sox.

Kenta Maeda of the Minnesota Twins looks on against the Chicago White Sox on April 10, 2023 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Less than three starts into Kenta Maeda’s return from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins starter may be on the shelf again. The righty was forced to leave his start against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday afternoon after he was struck flush in the ankle by a line drive off the bat of Jarren Duran.

Per Statcast, that ball came off the bat at 111.6 mph. Maeda somehow had the presence of mind to throw Duran out at first, but it was clear that he was hobbled. He eventually managed to walk off the field under his own power, but the Twins pulled him from the game after just two innings of work.

Maeda was just starting to look like his old self after missing over a year and a half due to Tommy John surgery he underwent back in 2021, pitching to a 4.09 ERA over his first two starts. He first came to Minnesota in 2020, in a trade that sent hard-throwing reliever Brusdar Graterol to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and immediately broke out — posting a 2.70 ERA and finishing second in AL Cy Young voting in the pandemic-shortened season.

He was an integral part of Minnesota’s rotation plans, but if there’s any team that can weather any kind of extended absence, it’s the Twins. Not only have Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray been outstanding so far this year, but the club also has an eminently capable replacement in Bailey Ober waiting in the wings.