CHICAGO – It’s never an easy decision, Paul Molitor said, but in some ways, it’s the easiest decision a team can make: This isn’t working. Let’s try something else.
“This gives us a little different look,” the Twins manager said after the team shuffled its roster by adding three players and discarding, at least for now, three others. John Ryan Murphy, the backup catcher whose season has been a 3-for-40 calamity, was optioned to Class AAA Rochester, with Juan Centeno summoned to take his place. Darin Mastroianni was added to give the Twins a backup outfielder and an extra righthanded bat. Ervin Santana was activated from the disabled list after two weeks off because of back spasms; he’ll start Saturday.
And because Centeno and Mastroianni weren’t on the 40-man roster, the Twins had to remove two players to make room. Righthander J.R. Graham and lefty Ryan O’Rourke were the two Molitor and General Manager Terry Ryan selected, designating both for assignment.
“This wasn’t about [Graham and O’Rourke],” Ryan said, who has 10 days to trade, release or expose them to waivers in hopes of re-signing them to Rochester. “I needed two roster spots.”
Murphy took the news well, Ryan said, and the team hasn’t changed its mind about him. “We think he’s going to hit,” Ryan said of the catcher acquired last winter from the Yankees for Aaron Hicks.
“It’s been a slow start for him. Whether he’s put pressure on himself, it just hasn’t happened,” the manager said. “I told him [Friday] to try to regain your confidence [while] getting maybe eight or 10 at-bats a week isn’t an easy thing to do.”
For the 30-year-old Mastroianni, who will wear No. 21, the move is a homecoming of sorts. He makes St. Louis Park his offseason home, and appeared in 114 games for the Twins from 2012-14, but was lost on waivers two years ago. He is a career .212 hitter in the major leagues, and was hitting .208 so far this season at Rochester.
“It was a very nice surprise,” Mastroianni said of his call-up.
Centeno, 26, was also surprised, and believes his major league experience will help him succeed while he’s here. “I have a lot more confidence. I know a lot better what I have to do to stay here,” said Centeno, who appeared in 24 games with the Mets in 2013-14 and the Brewers in 2015, and is 10-for-61 (.164).
Life in limbo
Amid all the coming and going, Tommy Milone and Casey Fien stayed put Friday.
Saturday? They’re not sure.
“I’ve got this uniform right here. I think I’m still on the team,” said Fien, who along with Milone, was placed on outright waivers by the Twins, according to a source with knowledge of the move. “I’ve been through this before. I’m going to keep trying to get guys out.”
Fien and Milone aren’t supposed to know about their status, and under MLB rules, the Twins aren’t allowed to inform them. So they exist in a strange limbo, not knowing how long they will be here. If they’re not claimed by another team, the Twins could send them to the minors any time in the next seven days — or not.
• Brian Dozier was out of the lineup Friday after suffering a minor strain of his right hamstring while running out of the batter’s box Wednesday in Houston. The soreness was bad enough that he couldn’t have played if there had been a game Thursday, Dozier said, but he worked out Friday and felt so much better, he hopes to play Saturday.
• Longtime Twins scout Larry Corrigan, 65, suffered a stroke while working at a Texas League game in Little Rock on Tuesday, Ryan said, and he remains hospitalized there. Corrigan, whom Ryan has known for 36 years, is alert but has some lingering paralysis.
“He’s got some [rehab] work ahead of him,” Ryan said.