It was a double-whammy that no player wants to suffer.
A victim of the Twins’ roster shake-up in May, Tommy Milone also floated through waivers unclaimed and was outrighthed to Class AAA Rochester on May 7. That means 29 other teams weren’t interested, and he was off the Twins’ 40-man roster.
It can be a wake-up call. And Milone was determined to get back to the majors.
“Just trying to become myself again,” the lefthander said. “Trying to be aggressive. Throwing everything down, throwing everything for strikes. Just being the pitcher that I am.”
Milone the Nibbler had a 0-1 record and a 5.79 ERA with the Twins before he was demoted. He became Milone the Strike Thrower at Class AAA Rochester, going 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA in seven games there, walking only four batters in 48 ⅔ innings while striking out 41. His most recent start Tuesday was his best; he pitched seven shutout innings.
“It was just a mentality thing, just telling myself to go after hitters,” he said. “I just told myself to throw more strikes and try to get the hitters out of there. That was my main goal, just to attack hitters.”
So the Twins called up Milone on Friday while sending down Pat Dean, the same pitcher called up when the Twins dropped Milone in May.
“It wasn’t ideal,” said Milone, who was sent down to Rochester for five starts last year, too. “But sometimes a change of scenery might be a little good for you.”
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan credited Milone’s attitude once he arrived at Rochester.
“He did as much as you can possibly do to get back up here,” Ryan said.
Milone now hopes to get his family settled. Milone’s wife, Tina, who is due July 15 with the couple’s first child, remained in the Twin Cities when Milone was sent to Rochester but drove to western New York — with their two dogs — about 10 days ago. Now that Milone is back with the Twins, Tina has to hit the road again. Her father is going to accompany her on the trip this time.
There are 10 teams — the Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Rays, Red Sox, Royals and Yankees — who cannot sign any international prospect for more than $300,000 this year because they have exceeded the league-assigned pool of bonus money in past years.
For teams like the Twins, it provides for an opportunity to compete with fewer teams for talent this year.
The international signing window opens July 2, but indications are that the Twins will not make a big splash. The Twins’ bonus pool this year is just short of $2.4 million, but the chances are better that they will sign a handful of players to deals in the low six-figure range than any one in the seven-figure range.
The crop of talent this year is not considered as strong as last year’s. And the best players from that group likely are going to sign with other clubs. In fact, a handful of teams, including the Astros, Cardinals and Padres, are expected to spend well above their bonus pools for the top prospects.
This comes almost one year after the Twins signed Dominican shortstop Wander Javier for $4 million and paid a small penalty because their bonus pool was $3,948,500.
Miguel Sano, who is on the mend from a left hamstring strain, took batting practice and ran Saturday. The Twins plan to put him through a battery of drills Monday — cutting, starting, stopping, etc. — to test his hamstring before planning their next move with him. But Sano is getting better.
“He’s getting pretty close to starting to think about sending him out [on a rehabilitation assignment],” Ryan said.