Twins’ Randy Dobnak nearing rehab appearances

The right-hander has been out since June 24 because of a finger strain

Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Randy Dobnak (68) delivers a first inning pitch against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on June 2, 2021. Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports

It’s not hard to envision a scenario where many of the recent innings pitched by Griffin Jax, Bailey Ober and Charlie Barnes would instead have gone to Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer.

If all had stayed healthy this year, perhaps that’s what would have happened. Dobnak, Thorpe and Smeltzer were expected to serve as rotation depth for the Twins for a couple of years now. Instead, all have been injured for a prolonged period of time, opening opportunities to the trio of rookies.

Dobnak, for one, doesn’t seem too hung up on that fact. He watched that group come up through the minor leagues and is happy to see them get a major-league opportunity. His issue is that he just sick of not pitching.

“It sucks because I want to get out there and pitch every fifth day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in the bullpen. I just want to play.”

Dobnak, out of action since June 24 with a right middle finger strain, is finally moving closer to that. On Monday, he threw his first bullpen, a 25-pitch effort that he said went well. He threw again Wednesday before the series final against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field.


The finger strain wasn’t an acute injury but rather pain that Dobnak said built up over time, starting after his nail ripped and he went to a salon to get a fake one applied for his June 9 start against the Yankees.

“I felt it after that game. I think it’s because my finger was bruising so bad that day that I was throwing the ball differently, I guess,” Dobnak said. “After the game, I was like, ‘It’s kind of sore in here. It’s different.’ I know what normal soreness is.”

Dobnak kept pitcher for a couple of more weeks, until the pain grew to point where it forced him to shut everything down. He initially stopped throwing for a week. After resuming throwing, things still didn’t feel it right so he gave it a few more weeks of rest, and received a cortisone shot to ease the pain, too.

“I’m used to throwing every day,” he said. “I don’t really get too sore to the point where I feel like I can’t throw. When this happened, this was painful. I’ve dealt with soreness my whole life. It’s been weird not being able to throw. I have a lot of free time.”

As he builds up, he’s about to have less free time. On the 60-day injured list, Dobnak would be eligible to return later this month. Before that, he expects to go on “a few rehab starts,” and hopes to get built back up to a full six-plus inning workload.

“This is the first injury I’ve ever had,” he said. “You’d think it’d be like an arm hurts instead of a finger for a pitcher. It’s different.”

1991 reunion

The Twins will honor the 1991 World Series Champions this weekend, welcoming back more than 25 players, coaches and staff members for the 30-year anniversary.

On Friday night, fans will have opportunities to take photos with players, including Jack Morris, and season ticket holders will have an additional photo opportunity. In-game, the World Series trophy will be on display in Truly On Deck for fans to snap a photo with. Fans will have additional picture opportunities on Saturday.


Saturday’s pregame ceremony will begin at 5:50 p.m. ahead of the 6:10 game and will feature a roundtable discussion with Chili Davis, Kent Hrbek and Andy MacPhail, hosted by announcer Dick Bremer. Highlights, reflections and never-before-seen-footage will also be on display on the video board, and a ceremonial first pitch will follow.


Manager Rocco Baldelli said Josh Donaldson (hamstring), who served as the Twins’ designated hitter on Tuesday, came out of that feeling good and he is still on track to play third base on Friday against Tampa Bay. The Twins will recognize Nelson Cruz that night, back for the first time since being traded to the Rays on July 22.

Robb Jeffries (he/him) is the Night Editor for and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Robb can be reached at
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