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Twins starter Anthony DeSclafani says he’s trying to “hold out optimism” as he awaits assessment on arm

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Anthony DeSclafani is trying to remain optimistic. When he travels to Texas next week to visit with noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Meister, with whom he has a long-standing relationship, maybe he’ll get some good news.

But when it feels like a stabbing pain every time he throws the baseball, he knows he has to brace for all possibilities, the worst of which would be Tommy John surgery to reconstruct a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

The Twins have called DeSclafani’s injury a forearm strain, but they’ll know much more in the coming days.

“This thing can only pop up so much before something has to be fixed,” DeSclafani said. “I’m going to hold out optimism. You always want to try and avoid going under the knife. Maybe the MRI will show I can keep going. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

The Twins starting pitcher has never had the surgery — which would take him out of action for the entire season — but he has dealt with recurring flexor and elbow issues.

DeSclafani, 33, did not pitch for the San Francisco Giants after July 23 last season, dealing with the same injury that has led him to this place. He received plasma-rich platelet and stem cell injections back then and subsequently spent the offseason getting his arm into a good spot physically before reporting to camp.

But it’s hard to imitate the stress put on the elbow during the offseason throwing at an indoor facility, he said, and upon his arrival to camp, after throwing live batting practice, he started to feel that pain once more. After taking some time off to let it calm down and strengthen it, DeSclafani ramped back up to the point where he was throwing in a minor league game on Saturday. It was pretty clear to him that something wasn’t right.

He felt relatively good in his first inning of work, touching 94 mph and throwing strikes. By the second inning, the pain had increased to the point he didn’t want to throw the ball because it hurt so bad. Next week, he will finally get some answers from a doctor who has looked at his elbow throughout the course of his career.

“I know he’s going to give me the right thing to do here,” DeSclafani said. “I know I’m getting older, but I’m still hoping I can play baseball for years to come so I want to do what the best is for my future, as well.”

Varland ready for rotation spot

Wednesday was “just one of those days” for Louie Varland.

A few walks, a single here, a single there and suddenly the Detroit Tigers had put up eight runs in a hurry. It was the first sub-par start for Varland this spring, who has looked impressive in his quest for a rotation spot.

“I felt fine,” Varland said. “I mean, I felt good stuff-wise. Wasn’t doing exactly what I’d like, I guess.”

With DeSclafani sidelined, Varland is set to break camp with the team he grew up rooting for as a child in the St. Paul area, something he called “a dream come true” and his goal since 2019, the year the Twins selected him in the 15th round of the draft.

“Shoes need to be filled, innings need to be thrown, and I think I’m ready to do that,” Varland said.

Briefly

Max Kepler was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with left pectoral tightness. “Hopefully it’s just precautionary more than anything, but we’ll see,” bench coach Jayce Tingler said. … Reliever Jorge Alcala left Wednesday’s game alongside a trainer after being hit on the fingertips by a comebacker. Tingler said the reports seemed to be positive postgame. … Byron Buxton, who was scratched from Monday’s lineup because of his back, was in the lineup on Wednesday.

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