BALTIMORE -- Pedro Hernandez arrived as the Twins were getting ready for batting practice tonight, and made his way around the room, excitedly shaking hands. His season at Class AAA Rochester has been put on hold before it even started, because the Twins need a starting pitcher tomorrow. Cole De Vries will be placed on the disabled list Sunday morning, and Hernandez takes his start.
Sunday's start may rank as the second-most exciting day of Hernandez's life, though it'll never top the first. That came last July 28, when his wife Jackie gave birth to Bianca, their first child, at 8:30 a.m. The baby was about 90 minutes old when the left-hander got a phone call from White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, telling him he had been traded to the Twins in the Francisco Liriano trade.
The trade was disconcerting, but it's worked out. Hernandez will make his second major-league start on Sunday, and the 23-year-old Venezuelan is certain it will go better than his first. He gave up eight runs over four innings in his only big-league appearance for Chicago last year. Now? "This year, I'm prepared mentally, 100 percent," Hernandez said. "This game is for my first child. So I feel really good. Bianca, she's my baby -- right now, she's my motivation."
Hernandez pitched eight innings in a minor-league game last week, so he said his arm is stretched out enough to go six or seven innings Sunday.
Meanwhile, another Rochester player won't be back in Minneapolis for awhile. Catcher Drew Butera, manager Ron Gardenhire's "just a phone call away" emergency catcher, broke his let hand when he was hit by a pitch on Friday, and he was placed on the disabled list Saturday.
"That's sad. Drew is a very good catcher. He doesn't belong in Triple-A," Gardenhire said. "He's a big-league player. He's one of the best defensive catchers we have, throwing and catching. He needed to be playing, and that's what he was doing. So it's tough."
Here in Baltimore, the Twins will try to end the record-breaking run of Chris Davis, who has 16 RBIs in the season's first four games. That's more than 17 teams have, and it's twice as many as six teams. It's more than any two players in the majors combined. It's by far the most anyone has ever had in the season's first four game, and if he homers and drives in three runs again tonight, he'll join Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig (1931) and Bill Dickey (1937) to accomplish that in five consecutive games.
The lineups for the 6:05 CT first pitch: