CHICAGO – Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told Lewis Thorpe, called up as an extra bullpen arm, that he will make his major league debut Sunday by starting the series finale with the White Sox. And that wasn’t even the biggest surprise that Thorpe received Saturday.
After the Twins’ 10-3 victory finished, Thorpe was at his locker, still buzzing from getting the news about his new assignment, when the team’s travel director, Mike Herman, asked to see the lefthander in the hallway. “He just said, ‘Put some shorts on and come see me,’ ” Thorpe said. “I said, ‘I’ve still got my jersey on.’ But he’s like, ‘Don’t worry about that.’ ”
Thorpe walked through the door and froze. His parents, Ross and Lynn, stood there, fresh off their roughly 24-hour flight from Melbourne, Australia.
“Heart-stopping,” Thorpe said. “I’ve never seen my dad cry like that. It was just a surreal feeling.”
It’s a long way to travel, but his parents weren’t going to miss his major league debut. And once Baldelli and pitching coach Wes Johnson decided to push Kyle Gibson’s start back to Wednesday in Oakland, that debut became a start. The uncertainly about when he might pitch forced Thorpe to agree that his mother and father shouldn’t come so far without any guarantee of seeing him — but his folks, with the Twins’ help, secretly headed to the airport anyway.
“I’m excited. I’m ready to get out there and compete and show the Twins what I’ve got. I’m going to give it my all and not hold anything back,” said Thorpe, who will become the eighth Australian citizen to play for the Twins.
Thorpe was 3-4 with a 5.71 ERA at Class AAA Rochester when he was summoned in the wake of the Twins’ 18-inning game on Thursday. He sat in the dugout Saturday, to learn the hitters he will face.
“It helped a lot,” said Thorpe, who will be the 24th pitcher and eighth starter for the Twins this year, and the sixth Twin to make his major league debut. “It’s kind of intimidating, but it’s just an amazing atmosphere. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Extra rest for Gibson
When Gibson volunteered to pitch during extra innings Thursday, it was with the understanding that his stint would simply replace his normal between-starts throwing session scheduled for Friday, and that he would still make his normal start on Sunday.
But that agreement began to come undone practically from the moment he took the mound and threw 11 pitches in the 17th inning.
“It was all, ‘let’s wait and see how you feel.’ I didn’t think it was set in stone, but I thought I’d start” as scheduled, Gibson said. “But the more they thought about it, the just wanted to give me some extra rest.”
Gibson said he understood — “Their priority is rest and recovery, and as a player, it’s appreciated,” he said — but objected, albeit mildly, because he felt like he was abdicating his responsibility. “I want to pitch when it’s my turn to pitch, because whenever you don’t, whether it’s an injury or anything where you’re just getting rest, somebody else has to come do your job,” Gibson said. “I definitely wanted to pitch on Sunday. But their motivation is a good one, so I’ll just wait a few extra days.”
• Byron Buxton and Marvin Gonzalez, whose absence due to injury caused the Twins to scramble for healthy outfielders, were reinstated to the active roster on Saturday morning. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, called up to fill the vacancies, were sent back to Class AAA Rochester.
• Former Twins lefthander Gabriel Moya, designated for assignment a week ago, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Rochester.