James Beresford wanted to enjoy this baseball season as much as he could because the 27-year-old realized it could be his last.
“If this was going to be my last year,” Beresford said, “I wanted to go out playing like I was when I was a kid.”
As it turns out, Beresford will end this year as a major leaguer. On Monday, the Australian was promoted from Class AAA Rochester to the Twins, and he figures to make his major league debut sometime over the season’s final 22 games.
A veteran of 1,070 minor league games — including 440 with the Red Wings since 2013 — Beresford thought about quitting last offseason, following a 2015 when he batted .307 but wasn’t promoted. His family encouraged him to keep the dream alive. Now all the bus rides seem worth it.
“Persistence has definitely paid off,” said Beresford, who was signed in 2005. “I’ve been knocking on the door for the last three to four years.”
No one gets into the game to be a minor league lifer, but Beresford wondered if that would be his fate after last season. This year he wasn’t as productive, batting .269 in 122 games with 35 RBI. He played his 1,000th minor league game along the way, and Rochester teammates ordered T-shirts reading “Mr. 1000” — in Australian green-and-gold lettering, along with a kangaroo and four stars representing the four home runs he has hit as a pro.
Fortunately for him, that won’t be the highlight of this season.
Rochester manager Mike Quade left Beresford out of the lineup for the season finale against Lehigh Valley on Monday. While addressing players before the game, Quade announced that Beresford was not in the lineup because he was headed to the majors.
“I would have like to have been in that clubhouse when Mike Quade revealed the news,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s one of those stories where, in the midst of a lot of things we’re trying to endure and figure out here, we get a chance to celebrate a guy who has been a loyal soldier for our organization for a decade.”
That was the beginning of Beresford’s excellent adventure. When he arrived at the Target Field on Tuesday before the game against the Royals, Kansas City reliever and fellow Australian Peter Moylan sent over a bouquet of balloons to congratulate him.
Royals announcer Rex Hudler approached Beresford in the clubhouse with words of encouragement.
“I was a rookie at 28 and played 10 years,” Hudler told him. “You can do it too, brother!”
The surprises kept coming. Beresford’s parents, Ian and Christine, flew 25 hours from Melbourne to the Twin Cities to surprise him Wednesday. Beresford had no idea they were coming, and found out they are staying for a while.
“I think a decent period, 10 days or something,” James Beresford said. “They plan to come to Detroit and New York. Mom’s retired, but Dad’s still working. I can see he told his boss to either deal with it, or I’m done working, I guess.”
The Twins promoted Beresford because he has been a solid player in their system, but also as a reward for all the years he has spent in the organization. In each of the past four offseasons, Beresford could have left as a minor league free agent. Each time, he re-signed with the only organization he’s been with.
Once he appears in a game, he will be the 49th player the Twins have used, setting a club record. Beresford is not sure what he will do next season, but he’s glad he played this one.
“It’s not easy to go somewhere else when you have been here your whole career and this is all you know,” Beresford said. “And you want this to be your first big league jersey. It’s pretty special it has happened. I’m just trying to take it all in.”
• The Chicago Sun Times reported that the Cubs have not been approached by the Twins to speak with any of their executives about running their baseball department. Jason McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president, player development and amateur scouting, and Shiraz Rehman, a Cubs assistant general manager, have been mentioned as executives ready to run a baseball department. Another Cubs official to watch is Jared Porter, their director of pro scouting, who was born in Wayzata and spent 12 years with the Red Sox front office.
• The Twins on Friday will wear red jersey in honor of Jacob Wetterling and his family. They will also wear a No. 11 patch, the number Wetterling wore when he played sports.