Knowing the odds, hoping it's his time

Righthander Terry Doyle impressed the Twins at the Arizona Fall League.

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Many of us do not like math, but Terry Doyle's face lights up as he talks about how he discovered his love of numbers.

"My parents owned a convenience store when I was growing up,'' said Doyle, a righthander in camp trying to stick as a Rule 5 draftee. "So since I was like 8 years old they had me running the register and the rule was whenever we made change we weren't allowed to use the little change button. We had to count out the change.''

Doyle was great at arithmetic, an A student in math in high school. At Boston College he earned degrees in math and secondary education.

Doyle even was a substitute teacher this offseason back home in Warwick, R.I. and views teaching as a viable career option. But that's on hold right now as he tries to beat the numbers game he's facing with the Twins this spring training and reach the majors for the first time in his career.

The White Sox drafted Doyle, 26, in the 37th round of the 2008 draft but left him off the 40-man roster this offseason, and thus eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. Their decision surprised Doyle.

Chicago sent Doyle to the Arizona Fall League, where he was dominant at times while going 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts for the Mesa Solar Sox. After the league ended, Doyle was changing planes -- in Chicago, of all places -- when he found out he had been left off the White Sox's 40-man roster.

"Two guys got protected, and I saw my name wasn't on there and I was a little bit upset,'' said Doyle, who was 8-10 with a 3.07 ERA in 26 starts between Class A Winston-Salem and Class AA Birmingham last season. "I figured they sent me there to see if I did well and earned the protection [on the 40-man roster]. If not, then I would understand completely. But going out there and throwing well, it just baffled me as to why I was out there.''

But the Twins were out there. Steve Mintz, the Class A Fort Myers Miracle pitching coach, was Mesa's pitching coach. And Twins GM Terry Ryan was in the stands.

"I was very impressed,'' Ryan said of Doyle, who throws a three-pitch mix of fastball, slider and changeup. The fastball is usually in the low 90s but touched 93 during AFL play.

"He threw a lot of strikes, and he has a lot of energy. He's a big, strong guy. He's got plenty of fastball.

"He can spin the ball, he can slow it down," Ryan said. "He's not afraid. He looks durable. Yeah, I did see him and I saw him quite well.

"We liked what we saw. A legitimate Rule 5 selection.''

Doyle was back home in Warwick, monitoring the draft on the Internet, when he learned the Twins had selected him in the first round.

"I was pretty pumped,'' Doyle said. "I was jumping up and down and smiling and hugging my two sisters.''

A player is selected in the Rule 5 draft for $50,000 and must remain on the major league roster for the entire season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000. Teams also can work out a trade to keep a Rule 5 draftee. It happened last year when the Twins drafted Scott Diamond but wanted to keep him and send him to the minors. They agreed to send reliever Billy Bullock to the Braves in order to keep Diamond.

In one of the best Rule 5 picks of all time, the Twins landed lefthander Johan Santana in 2001 in a draft-day deal with Florida, which agreed to swap picks if the Twins would select Jared Camp for the Marlins.

Two days after celebrating his selection by the Twins, Doyle was substitute teaching. But if this works out, the teaching career can be put on hold awhile.

"Sticking with the team is always tough,'' he said. "There's lots of guys, you look at the numbers and it doesn't always work out for the Rule 5 guys.

"But every year there's a couple who stick, and hopefully I'm one of them.''

  • TWINS SPRING TRAINING

    Exhibition opener: 12:05 p.m. March 3 vs. Tampa Bay

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