Surprising big-league return for Twins' Bernier

  • Article by: KELLY PARSONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 19, 2013 - 10:18 PM
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The Minnesota Twins Doug Bernier is a 32-year-old career minor leaguer still looking for his first big league hit. Bernier was seen during batting practice at Target Field Friday, July 19, 2013, in Minneapolis, MN.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Doug Bernier was on the bus getting ready to ride back to Rochester, N.Y., after a game at Pawtucket, R.I., when Red Wings manager Gene Glynn called his team into the clubhouse.

It was during that impromptu gathering that Bernier, 33, learned his patience had finally paid off.

The utility infielder has spent 12 years in the minor leagues with four organizations and recorded only four major league at-bats during a short stint with Colorado at 2008. But Friday night at Target Field, Bernier finally made it back to where he has waited so long to be.

“I wasn’t expecting [to be called up],” Bernier said. “I was expecting to go home, have three days off and get back on the bus again.”

Instead, having been told about his call-up to the Twins Sunday, Bernier spent the next day packing his bags, and Tuesday, he drove from Rochester to Minneapolis — his first time in the state of Minnesota — with his wife and daughter.

In addition to Bernier, Chris Colabello, who started at designated hitter Friday, and catcher/left fielder Chris Herrmann were also called up during the All-Star break. All three have appeared in the major leagues before Friday, but Bernier, the oldest of the bunch, has the fewest by far.

In the past three years in the minors, Bernier has played every infield position, and he has a .985 fielding percentage in 92 games this season with the Red Wings. Still, 12 years in the minor leagues — six at Class AAA — often took its toll on Bernier.

“I definitely had some times where I was like, ‘What am I doing? Am I just wasting my time out here?’ ” Bernier said. “But I really believed in myself. I really believed there was an opportunity for me if I could just get a little more consistent.”

After his 2008 two-game stint with the Rockies, Bernier hadn’t posted a batting average above .240. This season, he hit .295 with 41 RBI.

“To know what he’s gone through, what he’s persevered through, it’s about love for the game of baseball,” Colabello said. “It’s just unbelievable. To be able to share it with him is something I’ll never forget.”

Colabello started at designated hitter Friday night, hitting sixth. Bernier and Herrmann are expected to get a few starts as well. They are here to breathe some life into the Twins offense.

“We need production,” General Manager Terry Ryan said. “We need scoring.”

The Twins sent Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Parmelee and Eduardo Escobar to Rochester on Sunday. Colabello, hitting .354 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI at Rochester this year, stands to get a lot of playing time because the Twins need a righthanded power presence in the lineup while Josh Willingham recovers from knee surgery.

Worley on shelf

Righthander Vance Worley was put on the seven-day disabled list at Rochester because of a sore shoulder. Ryan called the injury a very minor one, and Worley is expected to return in a week.

Worley, the Twins’ Opening Day starter, is 6-3 with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts in Rochester. Ryan said Worley still needs some fine tuning.

“He’s still be inconsistent in getting the ball down,’’ Ryan said.

Staff writer La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.

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