A couple of extras from a long day day at the ballpark:
Zach Littell emerged from the Twins’ clubhouse shortly after the Twins’ 6-3 loss on Tuesday night, and started hugging people. The 22-year-old righthander had 21 friends and family members in the stands at Target Field on Tuesday, most of them thrilled to travel from western North Carolina to be here for his debut.
“He should have a lot of adrenaline,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He had what seemed like a fairly large contingent up there who were pretty boisterous.”
Littell himself was still calming himself down afterwards, though giving up six runs over three innings deflated the mood.
But only a little bit.
“I got to live out a dream,” Littell said. “It was awesome.”
He figured he would be excited, but then he thought he would simply get down to business, just like he has hundreds of times before. Only, this time was undoubtedly different.
“You expect the adrenaline, you expect the rush of it,. But it just hung around a little longer than I thought it would,” Littell said. “I thought it would go by after the first out or the first inning, but it just hung around. It’s something I’ll have to learn to deal with.”
That’s why getting to pitch two more innings was helpful. “That’s probably the most pitches I’ve ever thrown in that timespan. I just wanted to try to go deep into the game, but tonight was kind of tough,” he said. “There’s no way to prepare for this, no matter what you do or who you talk to. There’s just no way until you pitch in a major league game. I’ll just continue to work on what I’ve been working on, get back up here and do it again.”
Only, he wouldn’t throw an 86-mph slider in the middle of the plate to Jose Abreu again.
“[There are] a lot of pitches I wish I could take back, [but] probably the Abreu home run, it started everything off,” he said. “Even the double [by Yolmer Sanchez] before him wasn’t a bad pitch. He fisted it off to left field for a double. But the Abreu pitch, I left it down the middle and he did his job.”
Molitor has made an interesting discovery over the past month, and again on Tuesday: It’s fun to call Fernando Rodney into a game.
“You look forward to when he gets an opportunity to come in and close out the game,” the manager said of his closer, who has converted 11 straight save opportunities. “He’s an interesting guy. He comes out throwing the first pitch 88 [mph], and five pitches later it’s 97. But he’s got a good feel, and he loves the opportunity. It doesn’t seem like he’s slowed down in terms of stuff.”