The morning started at Target Field on Sunday with curiosity as to what rationale allowed Buddy Boshers to be the pitcher added to the Twins bullpen. Another lengthy afternoon ended with Kris Atteberry choosing Boshers as the Twins’ player of the game during his postgame radio show.
About the same time Atteberry was doing this, pitching coach Neil Allen was retrieving Boshers from the lounging area of the clubhouse for a conversation with manager Paul Molitor.
Boshers had relieved Kyle Gibson with seven Detroit runs on the scoreboard and two outs in the third. After a walk, Boshers retired the next seven Tigers – including a pair of 1-2-3 innings that required a total of 21 pitches.
For this, Boshers was invited to the meeting with Molitor, and told the Twins’ bullpen situation was going to require him to return to Rochester.
Molitor was not happy about being forced to do this, saying it was a “tough conversation.’’ Boshers had not been told about the possibility of going right back to Rochester before the game Sunday, since the Twins were hoping for much more from Gibson than 2 2/3 innings.
If Gibson had gone five or six, Boshers could have pitched an inning and been available for a bit more work on Monday. As it was, he threw 30 pitches, and that was deemed too many to help right away vs. the Rangers.
The Twins will add a pitcher on Monday. The Star Tribune’s Phil Miller is reporting Nick Tepesch will be placed on the 40-man, with Ryan O’Rourke going on the 60-day disabled list.
Boshers had taken advantage of the horrendous quality of the 2016 Twins’ pitching staff to spend two stretches of the season in the big leagues. He was modestly successful with a 4.25 ERA in 37 appearances as a left-handed reliever.
The Twins allowed him to retain his place on the 40-player major league roster through the winter. He went to spring training with a chance to be the second bullpen lefty (behind Taylor Rogers) and in competition with O’Rourke and Craig Breslow.
What followed in Florida was a zealous attempt by Boshers to lose his place on the big-league roster and to earn his release from the organization.
Molitor kept running out Boshers, hoping to be impressed, and what the manager received was a 10.61 ERA in 10 appearances. Boshers pitched 9 1/3 innings and allowed 15 hits, including four home runs.
The assumption by most near the end of the exhibition schedule was that ByungHo Park would be added to the roster to serve as the designated hitter, and Boshers would be used to clear the required spot on the 40-man.
Derek Falvey, the new baseball boss, was not of a mind to give Park a place on the Opening Day roster based on what took place in spring training. So, PArk stayed on the Rochester roster, and Boshers was sent there on a big-league option.
On Saturday, the Twins were involved in one of the dreariest 9-inning marathons in franchise history, and then announced the first two roster moves of the season, involving rookie pitchers:
Lefthander Adalberto Mejia was heading to Rochester after three erratic starts, and reliever Justin Haley was going on the disabled list with alleged tendinitis in his right biceps.
The replacements were announced on Sunday:
First, there was Kennys Vargas, which brought no surprise. Vargas would’ve been on the team out of Florida if he had not spent most of three weeks on the bench for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic (and then fouled a ball off a foot and missed time with the Twins in late March).
Second, there was Boshers, which came with the reaction, “WHAT?’’
Boshers had pitched in six games with an ERA of 7.50 at Rochester. He gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings in his first time out on April 10, and had barely pitched since then.
On the surface, choosing Boshers to fill a spot in the bullpen seemed a crazed devotion to the 40-player roster by Falvey’s brain trust.
This seemed so illogical that an explanation was sought from Thad Levine, the Twins’ general manager and consigliere to Falvey. The first pitcher mentioned to Levine as an alternative to Boshers was Tepesch.
“We are going with four starters for two weeks because of off days,’’ Levine said. “We would like to keep Nick stretched out as a possibility when we go back to five starters.’’
Gibson’s latest calamity on Sunday wiped away that idea. There were hints Tepesch was the long reliever Molitor preferred at the end of spring training, but Falvey insisted that both Haley, the Rule 5 draftee, and Michael Tonkin, out of options, stuck on the 25-man roster.
Now, after a 2-7 homestand and 40 runs allowed in the last five games, room has been found for Tepesch – and Buddy Boshers is headed back to Rochester after an eight-up, seven-out effort in the 13-4 loss to the Tigers.
As a consolation, Buddy does have the coveted Atteberry player of the game honor to remember this quick return to the Twins.