The fourth-graders at Dorchester Elementary in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., probably had an easy afternoon Wednesday. Pat Dean is pretty sure they skipped the books and watched a ballgame over the Internet instead.
That’s because their teacher, Katie Dean, is married to the Twins’ rookie lefthander, and she returned to work after four days of waiting for him to make his debut. “My wife was in tears last night,” Dean said, when she left Minneapolis because she had used all the time off she had coming to her — mostly because their wedding over the winter used up the rest. “The past couple of days, she’s been trying to figure out how she can be here. Maybe take a 5 a.m. flight, or fly after school. Crazy stuff.”
She wanted to witness her husband’s major league debut, but it didn’t happen until Wednesday, four days after the 26-year-old was added to Minnesota’s roster. Dean’s parents and brother left Wednesday morning to go back to work, too — only an hour or two before Dean threw a first-pitch strike past Caleb Joseph on his first pitch in the majors.
“I don’t know if I could have prepared myself for the feelings I was having out there. … I was just happy I threw the first pitch for a strike,” Dean said of his 2⅔-inning stint against the Orioles in relief of Phil Hughes. “Once you’re actually out there, it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Dean retired the Orioles in order in the fifth inning, striking out Joey Rickard on a slider, but he gave up one run in the sixth and again in the seventh. No shame in giving up a double in the sixth to Baltimore slugger Chris Davis — “Pretty strong guy. You don’t want to hang a curveball to him,” Dean diagnosed — but the two walks he surrendered bothered him.
“It’s a little bit of nerves kicking in there, trying to do a little bit too much,” Dean said. “Looking back, I definitely wasn’t pleased with my fastball location. I was a little erratic.”
Brandon Kintzler made his home debut for the Twins, and it wasn’t what he had in mind, either. The first three hitters he faced in the ninth inning all collected hits, including Adam Jones’ third home run of the year. It traveled nearly 400 feet, landing in the second deck in left field, and scored two runs.
“Adam Jones was scuffling a little bit,” Twins manager Paul Molitor deadpanned about Jones’ four-hit day, “but we got him going.”
But Kintzler avoided further damage; after Davis doubled, he retired Mark Trumbo on a lineout, then got Jonathan Schoop to hit into a double play.
Buxton makes progress
Molitor said the reports on Byron Buxton at Class AAA Rochester have been good. The rookie outfielder is batting .299 since being sent down in late April, with a .356 on-base percentage that shows he’s doing a better job of swinging at strikes.
“We’ve seen signs of life, in terms of production and confidence, all those things we’re looking for,” Molitor said. “The biggest thing is, he’s putting a lot of time in, trying to find ways to shorten his swing and trying to be more consistent in terms of putting the ball in play.”
• Nick Burdi will be sidelined at least a couple of weeks at Rochester and perhaps longer, Twins minor league director Brad Steil said. The righthanded reliever is suffering from a bone bruise in his upper right arm and will need to slowly ramp up his workload once it’s healed, Steil said.