• Reuters

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Minnesota Twins ace right-hander Kenta Maeda underwent Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm Wednesday, ending his season prematurely and shelving him well into the 2022 campaign.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli shared the news with media members before the team’s Wednesday night home game against the Chicago Cubs.

Baldelli intimated that the Twins are hopeful that Maeda could return to action in nine to 12 months instead of the normal 14-month rehabilitation timeline.

The news adds to a disappointing season for the Twins, who had lofty expectations after winning the American League Central each of the past two seasons.

Maeda, 33, also experienced a substantial drop-off from 2020 — when he finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting — to 2021. After going 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 66⅔ innings a year ago, the Japan native ends this season 6-5 with a career-high 4.66 ERA in 21 starts.

The six-year veteran left his final outing early in obvious pain on Aug. 21 after hurling 4⅓ innings against the New York Yankees. He is 59-41 in his career with a 3.87 ERA in 169 games (135 starts) with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2016-19) and Minnesota (2020-21).

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