Those 1.1 scoreless innings that Chris Paddack threw on Saturday in the Minnesota Twins' ALDS loss to the Houston Astros were the result of a lot of work and sacrifice just to get back on the mound.
The 27-year-old right-hander has now undergone two Tommy John surgeries, including the one that cost him the vast majorities of the 2022 and 2023 campaigns. However, Paddack worked in the shadows with one goal in mind ... and that was to get back on the mound in time to make an impact for the Twins in the postseason.
Chris Paddack talks about journey back to Minnesota Twins
Acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres before the 2022 season, Paddack experienced elbow inflammation after leaving his fifth start with the Twins (on May 8) after just 2.1 innings. Later that month, manager Rocco Baldelli announced that Paddack would undergo his second Tommy John surgery.
Working hard in his rehab to get back to the Twins before the postseason began, Paddack made his return in late September and threw 5.0 innings to test his readiness to be on the postseason roster. His three innings of shutout ball against the Colorado Rockies on September 30 earned him his first win in more than 16 months.
"Especially getting in the win column, and having a little bit to contribute, which was my goal in January looking back over the last 16 months," Paddack said after that victory.
Paddack admitted the work put in to get back to the postseason made the experience "amazing" as the Twins clinched the American League Central title and punched their playoff ticket.
"I sat down with our coaching staff and our training staff back in January and asked them what was a realistic goal for myself," Paddack said. "Obviously a lot of things had to go my way with no setbacks and staying focused on the end goal. Some days were better than others. It was hard at times, watching these guys win and not be able to be a part of it, but they knew I was busting my butt in Florida."
"Him being back on the team is awesome," said infielder Kyle Farmer. "He brings good energy to the team and he's a great guy to have in the locker room."
That energy and the work that went into it paid off on Saturday for the Twins when Paddack took the mound inside Minute Maid Park and struck out two of the four batters he faced.
"It's pretty special to me when I set some personal goals in January that I wanted to come back at the end of September, and being able to accomplish those goals and seeing the hard work pay off, it's pretty special," Paddack said.