Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Former Twin takes the mound against old team

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: August 27, 2014 - 5:47 PM

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals took their team picture before batting practice today, and I watched Liam Hendriks walk out somewhat sheepishly toward the risers in center field, having his picture taken with teammates he hasn't met yet. Hendriks was acquired by the Royals in a trade with Toronto on July 28, and the Aussie righthander is making his debut with his new team tonight.

    As Twins fans know well, Hendriks is one of the most extreme examples of what's commonly called a "Four-A" player in baseball today -- a guy who looks like a superstar in the minor leagues, but who cannot find success in the majors:

    -- Hendriks went 9-3 with a 2.20 ERA in Class AAA Rochester two years ago.

    --  When the Twins let him go last winter, the Blue Jays claimed him and he went 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA for their Triple-A team. 

    -- Since the trade last month, he's gone 4-1 with a 2.83 ERA for the Royals' top minor league team.

    Yet here are his ERAs the past four seasons in his various major-league opportunities: 6.17, 5.59, 6.85 and 6.08.

    "You never know with a pitcher. You never know when they're going to figure it out or find their niche," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who watched Hendriks start 17 games before finally earning his first victory. "We know he's got the fastball. In the minor leagues, it's different -- these guys can hit the fastball."

    We'll see if the Twins can, too. Hendriks has started 31 games in the majors, and has a 3-13 record. But he's never faced his former team.

    To make room, the Royals optioned Aaron Crow to Class AA Northwest Arkansas, but I'm not sure the righthanded reliever will actually go. Minor-league seasons end next Monday, so Kansas City is likely just giving Crow a five-day break before rosters expand next week.

    Here are the lineups for tonight's 7:10 game:

TWINS

 

Santana CF

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Vargas DH

Arcia RF

Plouffe 3B

Suzuki C

E. Escobar SS

Schafer LF

 

Hughes RHP

 

ROYALS

 

Aoki RF

A. Escobar SS

Gordon LF

Butler 1B

Perez C

Ibanez DH

Moustakas 3B

Colon 2B

Dyson CF

 

Hendriks RHP

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