SEATTLE -- Right-hander Ricky Nolasco met with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson on Monday, and admitted he has been pitching through elbow discomfort this season.
Nolasco is scheduled to fly back to Minnesota on Monday night as a result, and will be examined by team physician Dr. John Steubs on Tuesday. It was the first time Nolasco had told anyone in the organization that he's had elbow issues this year.
"After some coaxing, he finally admitted he's been struggling since Spring Training with a bit of a sore elbow," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He said he can't get loose more than anything. Said it gets tight. Some days it's better than others. But [Sunday], he had a real difficult time getting loose, so we called it a day after two innings. And we talked to him [Monday] and he admitted something was going on, so we'll get him checked out."
Nolasco struggled Sunday, giving up six runs on seven hits over a season-low two innings in a loss to the Yankees to see his ERA rise to 5.90 on the year. The Twins have been worried about his velocity, as it has ticked downward every month, according to data at BrooksBaseball.net.
Nolasco's four-seam fastball averaged 92.39 mph in March, 91.79 mph in April, 91.60 mph in May, 90.97 mph in June and 90.55 mph in July. His four-seam velocity was a season-worst 89.96 mph in his start on Sunday.
"His velocity has been down," Antony said. "He hasn't been as effective with his pitches. He hasn't had the command as he's had. Physically, everything he's done isn't what the reports we had on him from last year."
Nolasco's troubles have come in the first season of a four-year, $49 million deal signed in the offseason. He had a career 4.37 ERA entering this year, including a 3.70 ERA last year with the Marlins and Dodgers.
"We know what we brought here -- we brought over a very good pitcher with a great track record," Gardenhire said. "He finally admitted it. I like the old school. I like a guy who wants to pitch through some pain. But obviously the results aren't what we want and yesterday he didn't have much, at all."
Morales returns to Seattle after departing in offseason
SEATTLE -- Kendrys Morales made his return to Safeco Field on Monday, and said that he was never close to re-signing with the Mariners in the offseason.
Morales, who played with the Mariners last season, turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer in the offseason. He didn't sign with the Twins until June 8, signing a one-year, $12 million prorated contract worth roughly $7.6 million.
Morales said he knew it wouldn't be easy to find a multi-year deal, but he took his chances this offseason and it simply didn't work out.
"I knew it was going to be tough looking for another job," Morales said through a translator. "But in my heart, I just didn't want to be back here in the same spot. I was just taking my chances to see if there was something better."
Morales is still working on getting his timing back given his long layoff, but he said it didn't feel too strange to be back in Seattle with a new team.
"It's not a different feeling," Morales said. "I'm just here with a different shirt on. I'm just here with the Twins."
Meyer to replace injured May at Futures Game
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Trevor May is still sidelined with a strained right calf muscle, so he'll be replaced by fellow right-hander Alex Meyer in the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Target Field.
May, ranked as the club's No. 11 prospect by MLB.com, was placed on the 7-day Minor League disabled list by Triple-A Rochester on June 28. He was expected to be ready to make his return in time to participate in the Futures Game, but the injury has taken a bit longer than expected to heal. It's still considered a minor injury, as he's expected to be cleared to rejoin Rochester's rotation by as early as Sunday. The Twins, however, didn't want his return to come at the Futures Game.
"It was disappointing for Trevor May," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "He's had a very good year but had bad timing with a calf strain."
His teammate at Rochester, Meyer, will take his spot on the roster. Meyer, ranked as the No. 24 overall prospect by MLB.com, has a 3.46 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 39 walks in 83 1/3 innings this year.
"He's had his ups and downs," Antony said. "He's had some tremendous games and had some where he's struggled with his command and couldn't get it going. But his last outing was very good and he had two or three before that weren't so good. So we're just looking for some consistency."
Meyer joins right-hander Jose Berrios and first baseman Kennys Vargas as Minnesota's representatives in the Futures Game. Berrios was promoted to Double-A Rochester on Monday.
Recovering top prospect Sano set to begin throwing
SEATTLE -- Top prospect Miguel Sano's six-month checkup with Dr. David Altchek in New York went well on Monday, and the third baseman has been cleared to start a throwing program, according to his agent, Rob Plummer.
Sano, ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by MLB.com, can start doing light throwing exercises as soon as Tuesday, and could be cleared to start swinging a bat in about a month.
"He was all smiles," Plummer said about Sano.
The Twins remain hopeful that Sano will be able to serve as a designated hitter late in the Minor League season, as well as possibly seeing action in the Arizona Fall League or in the Dominican Winter League to make up for lost time. But he'd have to get permission from his Winter League team, Estrellas, to play in the Fall League.
Sano played in just two games with Estrellas in the offseason before feeling elbow pain. He ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery on March 12, with Altchek performing the operation.
Sano was joined at his meeting on Monday by Plummer and the same film crew that shot the documentary, "Pelotero" that showcased his journey of signing with the Twins out of the Dominican Republic. The film crew is working on a sequel detailing Sano's rise through the Minors to the big leagues.