MINNEAPOLIS — Three days after being placed on the injured list for mental health reasons, Minnesota Twins reliever Jorge López was on the mound participating in pitchers’ fielding practice.
López is happy to be around the team, appreciative of the support he has received and is working toward a return.
The 30-year-old right-hander hopes he doesn’t need much longer than the required 15 days, but López recognized the need for help after the team approached him.
“It was more their decision,” López said. “I just accepted. I think it’s something I really appreciate, to recognize that and work through that. I think we talk about that a lot, about this game, it’s more mental than physical. So, you work as much as you can to get your body and everything like that but at the same time, you got to do your mind.
“That’s what I’m trying to do every day, get my mind fresh and start clean.”
López admitted to frustration over his recent performances that caused him to act out. López was unscored upon in April, holding opponents to a .140 batting average over 12 innings and 13 appearances.
He allowed two earned runs in his first outing in May that started a tough month-plus. Over his last 16 appearances before being put on the injured list, he gave up 15 earned runs in 15 innings and opponents hit .349 against him. It culminated in a two-inning appearance against Detroit on June 15 when López gave up three runs.
“Just little stuff where bad outings, I’d start kicking stuff, punching stuff, getting mad real quick and I couldn’t control the emotion and stuff,” López said Wednesday. “That took me a little bit out of the game and you became frustrated every day. Even you try to be new guy next day, but it kind of get the snowball going. Good thing they recognized that and they told me about it, and it’s just time to reflect and move forward.”
He was finally placed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday for mental health reasons. He became the fourth player in the majors this season to be added to the injured list for mental health following Colorado‘s Daniel Bard, Detroit‘s Austin Meadows and Oakland‘s Trevor May.
“I think it’s been actually pretty fantastic that he’s been able to be here with us and spend some time, work on some of the things non-baseball related, and also get on the field,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I’m really so happy for him that he’s taken this as a challenge. He’s looked at himself, and he’s said, ‘I need some help, and I need some support right now.’ And we’re happy to be there to give it to him in every possible way.”
López said he has spoken with a psychologist. Being around his teammates has also been helpful.
“At the end of the day, I just want to make everybody feel good when I win, but some emotions, you have to get into yourself and talk about it to get better,” López said. “Just keep smiling, stay happy inside of the body, and control what you can control.”
Jorge Lopez – IL stint to address mental health was Twins’ decision