MLBits: Pitching Coach Leaves Twins for LSU, D-Backs Big Comeback, Braves Approach a Record, Trout and Ohtani Go Back-to-Back, More

Minnesota pitching coach Wes Johnson will depart for LSU after the Twins series with the Guardians on Thursday, and to say that the Twins are shellshocked by the abrupt departure of Johnson would be an understatement.

Twins Processing the Departure of Wes Johnson

The situation in Minnesota regarding pitching coach Wes Johnson’s mid-season departure for LSU is one of the wilder storylines in baseball right now. Maybe even all season. A major league pitching coach on a first-place team making nearly a half-million dollars this season, leaving just shy of the All-Star break to return to the college ranks seems bizarre at first glance.

But, everyone has their reasoning for doing things, Johnson included. Dan Hayes covers the Twins for The Athletic, and he did an excellent job covering this story, specifically the reason behind the move and the emotions of the players impacted by Johnson’s departure in Minnesota.

A compensation package that reportedly reaches $750,000 is a pretty good reason to head to Baton Rouge. But Johnson, who called the mid-season jump the “toughest thing [he’s] ever done,” declined to comment on any financial compensation reports. Instead, he explained that moving to LSU was best for his family.

“The emotions have been pretty tough for about a week,” Johnson told Dan Hayes of The Athletic. “I have priorities in my life, and I don’t hide those. I tell people my priorities. It’s my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one. It’s my family, two. And it’s baseball, three. I’m never going to get those out of whack.

“My family is above the game of baseball. The Twins are a great organization. I have no — this place is awesome. It purely comes down to my family and the things that I mentioned.”

Johnson is doing what’s best for his family, and I can respect that. So do his soon-to-be former players, despite their disappointment that they won’t be working with Johnson anymore. Chris Archer has enjoyed a bounce-back campaign in Minnesota this year (3.14 ERA in 14 starts) after struggling with injuries the last three seasons. Archer credits Johnson for reinstalling the confidence in himself that he lost the past three years. Archer said he’d miss working with Johnson, but he respects him for staying true to his priorities in life.

Sonny Gray echoed a similar sentiment:

“If you know me at all, letting people in and getting into relationships in that respect, I put my guard up a lot,” Gray said. “Wes is someone who was in. I was mad at him a lot today. I was happy for him a lot today. I used every emotion and everything that kind of was going through and kind of used it to pour it into the game. But overall I’m happy for him if this is what he wants and this is something that is going to be best for him and his family moving forward. I hope nothing but the best for him. I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss him a lot.”

Beyond the Twins pitching staff dealing with the shock of the departure of Wes Johnson, the Twins now have to replace him on the fly as they battle with Cleveland for first place in the AL Central. The Twins say they’ll go with internal options. According to Hayes, bullpen coach Pete Maki and run prevention coordinator Colby Suggs, a longtime associate of Johnson’s, will be elevated into Johnson’s role.

Wild Comeback in the Desert

The Arizona Diamondbacks won’t be in the conversation in the NL West with the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants having a stranglehold of the division for the foreseeable future, but they stole the show on Tuesday night when they orchestrated the largest comeback win in franchise history against the San Diego Padres.

After falling behind the Padres 6-0, the Diamondbacks went on the comeback trail in the final three frames. Arizona scored four in the seventh, two in the eighth, and then Christian Walker walked it off in the bottom of the ninth inning at Chase Field.

Atlanta Nearing Historic June Win Total

The Atlanta Braves just keep on winning. A 5-3 victory over the Phillies last night moved their June record to a sizzling 20-5! Atlanta’s 20 wins this month are tied for their third-most wins in June in franchise history. The Braves won 22 games in June 1960 and 21 in June 2002. The Braves have two more games in June (both against Philly), and they have a chance to tie their 1960 mark for the most wins in June in franchise history. If the Braves can win their next two games, their 22 wins this month will be the third most in any month in franchise history.

Odds and Ends …

  • Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani were doing MVP things last night when they hit back-to-back homers against Johnny Cueto and the White Sox.
  • Miguel Cabrera collected his 3,056 hit last night, passing Rickey Henderson for 26th on MLB’s all-time hit list.
  • We had another six-inning cycle on Tuesday, the second in a week! Ironically, after Austin Hays accomplished the feat for the Orioles last Wednesday in a rain-shortened affair with the Washington Nationals, it was an Orioles farmhand to achieve the feat this week. O’s prospect Gunner Henderson accomplished the feat on Tuesday night for the Norfolk Tides (the Triple-A affiliate of the Orioles).
  • Vladdy Jr. walked it off for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night:
  • This is WILD! The sons of Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, and Keith Folk are all playing on the same team in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Ramirez, Martinez, Ortiz, and Foulke all played together in Boston and won a World Series together in 2004.
  • Here’s a nice story on Lauren Shehadi who is now centering the MLB coverage on TBS:
  • Bryce Harper is expected to have surgery to repair his broken thumb, but the Phillies expect Harper to play again this season. Hopefully, for Philadelphia, the Phillies will be in the hunt when Harper returns later this season.
  • As I like to do often, we’ll wrap it up with a crazy stat:
  • written by

    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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