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Twins: Missed chances, kept secrets

  • Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
  • Star Tribune
  • May 20, 2007 - 11:31 PM

MILWAUKEE - The Twins are losing one reliever per series now, weakening a bullpen that has been durable and dominant for most of the Ron Gardenhire era.

Gardenhire learned something after Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Brewers that he should have known before the game -- lefthander Dennys Reyes was battling more shoulder problems before he gave up the deciding run in the seventh inning.

Reyes likely will have a magnetic resonance imaging exam today and could land on the 15-day disabled list, two days after the club found out reliever Jesse Crain could miss up to a year after shoulder surgery.

The last thing a manager wants is late information, and Gardenhire wasn't pleased to hear Reyes was having shoulder trouble.

"Rumor has it that he has a little bit of a tender shoulder," Gardenhire said. "'That's the kind of thing a manager likes to know before the ballgame. I found out after the ballgame."

Reyes admitted after the game that his shoulder has been bothering him since a three-game series in Kansas City on April 20-22. He has tried to pitch through it, but recently it became worse.

"Today, I could not find my slider and throw my slider to lefties," Reyes said.

Those two lefties, Prince Fielder and Geoff Jenkins, combined for the winning runs. Fielder led off the seventh with a double down the right-field line, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jenkins' single to left. Jenkins also homered and drove in five runs as the Twins were kept from sweeping the Brewers in Milwaukee for the first time since 1978.

Jenkins' three-run homer off Twins righthander Ramon Ortiz -- who has an 11.76 ERA in his past four starts -- tied the score at 5-5 in the fifth inning after the Twins took an early 4-0 lead, with two of those runs coming on Michael Cuddyer's fifth homer in the third.

"It's disappointing because you have a lead and a chance to finish them off," said Gardenhire, whose team did win the first two games of the series.

Reyes was 5-0 with a 0.89 ERA last season but has been nothing like that this year. He is 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA and has allowed a baserunner in 16 of his 21 appearances. He didn't pitch from April 29-May 5 because of shoulder soreness in the same area, but everyone thought he was past those problems.

Reyes said after the game that he probably would have a MRI exam today.

"I don't know what's inside," he said, "that's the thing."

Reyes is the Twins' lefthanded specialist. The club could absorb his loss easier if Crain, who throws in the mid-90s, was not out for the year.

Ironically, Reyes (two years, $2 million) and Crain (three years, $3.25 million), signed multiyear deals within the past year.

Righthanders Pat Neshek and Juan Rincon will have to assume more prominent setup roles, and the Twins will begin to use lefthander Glen Perkins in late-inning matchups with lefthanded hitters, although Perkins' future is as a starter.

"He's the lefty out there," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "He's going to get the opportunity."

The Twins left for a three-game series in Texas, with Gardenhire planning to investigate why Reyes or anyone else didn't tell him about the pitcher's shoulder problems.

"All I know is that the manager should know about things like that," he said. "I'm a little disappointed about things right now, so we will get that straightened out."

La Velle E. Neal III •

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