Staumont’s Twins debut was his first healthy game in years

TORONTO — Along one wall of the living room in his Kansas City home, it sits on a shelf, among the vases and houseplants and other knickknacks: a plastic bag, fairly nondescript except for the bright orange biohazard warning. And what's inside.

"It's my rib. They cut it out of my neck and gave it to me as a souvenir," Twins reliever Josh Staumont said of the odd conversation-starter he keeps on display. "It sits on our mantel. People would probably find that funny. But that surgery was a big event in my life, so it means a lot."

Almost as much as it meant for Staumont, a 30-year-old righthander, to return to the mound on Thursday, getting the final three outs of the Twins' 11-1 victory over Seattle. It was his first major league outing since last June 5 while with the Royals, and his first completely healthy performance, Staumont figures, in many years — perhaps the first of his life.

"TOS [thoracic outlet syndrome] is about the worst, weirdest injury you can have, because there's nothing you can point to as being wrong. Mine was an anatomical anomaly, something I was born with, so you don't even realize you're having symptoms," Staumont said of his condition, in which his blood flow was restricted by the rib pressing on an artery. "By the end, I would be standing on the mound and couldn't feel my hand. But my whole career, I was never anatomically sound. So how many times did I [pitch poorly] because of the TOS without knowing it?"

In that respect, Staumont feels like this is practically a new start to his career, one he feared was over when he finally discovered what was happening in his shoulder.

"Baseball was taken away from me, and to keep going, I had to stop playing and have surgery that has a terrible success rate," he said. "So it was like, you're probably done or maybe you could be the outlier. And I was like, sounds fun. Sounds like a challenge.

"It wasn't easy. It still isn't. But I didn't want that to be my last chapter. You have a lot of chapters in life, and baseball is only a couple of chapters in my book. I didn't want it to end this way."

Which is why the former second-round pick, who compiled a 4.01 ERA over five seasons with the Royals, became emotional after his scoreless inning on Thursday, and why his wife, Angelina, posted "Proud of the journey" — along with a photo of that rib — on Staumont's Instagram account.

"There's just a ton of emotions, right?" he said. "It was one of those things — coming back, it's cool. It can be taken away from you at any time, so I'm just trying to forge a path forward."

City Connect coming

The Twins will reveal their City Connect uniforms on June 10, the team announced on social media Friday, and will wear them for the first time on June 14 against the Athletics, a game that also includes a postgame concert by rap artist Flo Rida.

That will make them the 28th MLB team get special city-themed uniforms from Nike. The Dodgers are getting new ones later in June, after first getting them in 2021. The Yankees and A's are not taking part in the City Connect program.

The Twins offered a hint on the X platform about what aspect of Minnesota their uniforms will feature, by posting the announcement with the call of a loon audible. That suggests the uniforms will be lake-related, or perhaps state bird-related.

Manager Rocco Baldelli noted most of the City Connect jerseys are wildly different from teams' normal styles and colors, from the Boston Marathon-related blue-and-yellow uniforms the Red Sox occasionally wear, to the beach-and-Mexico-themed colors of the Padres.

"My opinion on City Connect jerseys, generally speaking, is that you should make a scene with them, because you have one opportunity to come up with something special," said Baldelli, who has seen the uniform prototypes, but like most Twins employees, has been sworn to secrecy about them. "They shouldn't be bland, because why do it then? So I feel like it's an opportunity to share a little creativity."

Festa shines

Twins top pitching prospect David Festa gave up three hits while striking out 10 in six scoreless innings, but the Saints managed only two hits in a 1-0 loss at Toledo. Festa has 28 strikeouts over his past three starts. Jordan Balazovic gave up the only run in the seventh inning.