The loss of Slowey, who was 10-3 with a 4.86 ERA this season for the Twins before being placed on the disabled list on July 4 with a strained right wrist, to season-ending surgery is a blow to the Twins' rotation. It's a rotation that was already thin on depth and will now be without the starter who has provided the most wins for the club this season.
"It's a tough break because he's throwing the ball very, very well for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "On the flip side of it, we finally know exactly what we're going to do here. It's a young arm with a very good future. We want to make sure we don't do anything silly here."
Slowey's injury stems from an incident last September when he was hit on the wrist by a Juan Uribe line drive during a start against the White Sox. Slowey said doctors told him he had a pre-existing bone chip that was aggravated by the blunt impact of the line drive. At the time, Slowey saw Graham in Baltimore and had a cortisone shot in his wrist.
While he had some pain in the wrist doing everyday things since the start of the season, Slowey said the pain didn't bother him pitching until a couple of starts before the All-Star break.
After going on the disabled list, Slowey tried to rehab the injury but suffered a setback Friday. While preparing for a Minor League rehab start with Triple-A Rochester, Slowey was unable to play catch, and the team shut him down.
"I got out to 90 feet, but the combination of the pain and that, I couldn't make the ball do what I wanted it to do, even in throwing and playing catch," Slowey said "Our medical team and [pitching coach Rick Anderson] and [Gardenhire] have been very adamant throughout that my health has been of the utmost concern. At no point do they want me to go out there and taking painkillers to throw or be out there just trying to gut it out, because that's not going to help me or the team."
Gardenhire knows that surgery is the right thing for Slowey, but he also admitted that the loss of the starter will hurt.
"It's a tough break," Gardenhire said. "Our depth is not where you want it to be, anyway, and there is a little bit more of it gone."
The injury means that Anthony Swarzak will remain in the rotation in Slowey's spot. There had been discussion of moving Swarzak to the bullpen when Slowey returned, but that's no longer a possibility.
Minnesota's rotation will consist of Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins and Swarzak. There have been some concerns within that group -- including Perkins' recent shoulder soreness and Liriano's struggles, as the left-hander became the first 10-game loser in the Majors this season. As for depth, the options at Rochester appear to be tapped out, so it's likely that the club's options for another starter would come from their bullpen -- meaning either Brian Duensing, R.A. Dickey or Bobby Keppel could be options if needed.
With the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline quickly approaching, Gardenhire was asked whether his club might be more inclined to acquire a starting pitcher. The skipper acknowledged that it's not his department on what moves the team might make but indicated that he didn't expect any changes to the rotation. So he said the pressure is on his current starters to improve from how they pitched on the club's recent 10-game road trip.
"If you saw the last road trip, we didn't exactly knock the socks off with our rotation," Gardenhire said. "We have to get better. We have to pitch better. This is what we have. This is where it's at. We're not going to find it anywhere else. We have to look within at the guys that we have, and they have to get it done."