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Twins starter Kenta Maeda leaves start vs. Yankees with apparent back injury

Maeda, who was just returning to the Twins’ rotation after taking a line drive off his ankle two weeks ago, clearly didn’t look right on Wednesday.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees at Target Field. Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Kenta Maeda just cannot catch a break. After a year and a half spent rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins righty looked solid in his first start of 2023 and seemed locked into a spot in the rotation moving forward — but it’s been nothing but bad news since

Maeda’s second start was pushed back multiple times with what the team termed “arm fatigue”. When he finally did take the mound again, he labored against the Chicago White Sox with clearly diminished stuff and velocity. His next outing, against the Boston Red Sox, lasted less than two innings after the righty took a comebacker off his ankle.

Maeda tried once again to get his season on track on Wednesday afternoon against the New York Yankees, but this attempt proved to be the ugliest of them all. Not only was Maeda shelled for a whopping 11 runs in three-plus innings of work, but he wound up leaving with a back injury after attempting to field a bunt.

It’s been clear ever since the spring that something just wasn’t right with Maeda, with both his velocity and his feel for both his slider and splitter well off what they were when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting back in 2020. Given both his ineffectiveness and his injury history, Minnesota may want to shut him down for an extended period of time so they can figure out what’s wrong with him — and ensure that he’s 100 percent whenever he does return.

If there’s a silver lining here for the Twins, it’s that they’re uniquely suited to weather an injury to their rotation. Bailey Ober, who’s posted a 3.74 ERA over 32 Major League starts, is waiting in the wings in Triple-A.