CHICAGO – Liam Hendriks earned another look from the Twins on Friday with a strong surge. And also because he’s had major league experience. And because his turn in Rochester’s rotation was coming up. And OK, assistant General Manager Rob Anthony conceded, “we don’t have a ton of options, to be honest.”
That’s because Rochester’s rotation has been plundered by the Twins, and a streak of injuries that have left the Red Wings scrambling to fill vacancies. Kyle Gibson and Andrew Albers have been promoted, while Vance Worley, Pedro Hernandez, Cole De Vries and Nick Blackburn are all sidelined by various ailments.
Hendriks will start the regularly scheduled night game Friday, after Kyle Gibson handles the afternoon’s makeup.
“He’s been the most consistent [remaining Red Wings pitcher],” Antony said of Hendriks, who had a 1.93 ERA over four strong midsummer starts, and has pitched at least six innings six times in eight starts. “He wasn’t very good in his last start, but six of his last eight were pretty good.”
There was one other possibility, but manager Ron Gardenhire said he decided against giving long reliever Anthony Swarzak a spot start for a couple of reasons, the most obvious being: Why mess with a good thing?
“If I take him out of the bullpen and put him in the rotation, who’s going to fill that hole?” Gardenhire said of Swarzak, who leads the Twins’ bullpen in innings pitched with 70⅔ and has posted a career-best 3.06 ERA. “That rubber arm that he has, he can pitch multiple innings and come back a couple of days later and do it again. And [they’re] quality innings.”
That’s as opposed to his results in his occasional opportunities to start. Swarzak has started 28 games over his four big-league seasons, and posted a 6-17 record with a 5.79 ERA.
“We know what his numbers are,” Gardenhire said, before adding, “yes, he’s matured as a pitcher. I don’t feel like you could go wrong, no matter where you put him. If you put him in the rotation, he might do just fine, I don’t know. He hasn’t had much success there in the past — but he’s had a lot of success where he’s at.”
Joe Mauer already knows what it would be like to play for his older brother. He tested that theory during a couple of rehab starts last summer at Fort Myers, where Jake Mauer was the Miracle’s third-year manager.
Mauer said he’s known for most of his life that Jake, 4½ years his elder and now manager of the Twins’ Class A team in Cedar Rapids, would someday be a standout manager.
“He always had that [quality], in whatever sport he played. He was always one step ahead of the opposition, so I knew he would want to coach,” Mauer said. “The guy never gets too high, never gets too low — we kind of share that same trait.”
It serves him just as well as his brother, apparently. A survey of the 16 Midwest League managers recently taken by Baseball America chose Jake Mauer “Best Managerial Prospect.”
“I like hearing about how Jake sticks up for his players,’’ Joe Mauer said. ‘‘I don’t think he was ever thrown out of a game as a player, but he’s been thrown out of a few as manager, because he’s got their backs.”
• Josh Willingham rejoined the Twins and will be activated Friday morning, when the Twins must decide how to clear a roster spot. They’ll likely place Ryan Doumit on the seven-day concussion disabled list, or option a player back to Rochester.
• Neither Aaron Hicks (hyperextended knee) nor Darin Mastroianni (strained quad) was in Rochester’s lineup Thursday. Neither injury is considered serious.
• The Twins career of Tim Wood, the 2012 International League Relief Pitcher of the Year, apparently has ended before it even started. The righthander, signed to a $675,000 one-year contract before the season, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder Aug. 22, likely ending his association with the Twins.