CHICAGO – The Twins claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from Atlanta on Sunday. When he takes the field, he will be the seventh center fielder the Twins have used this year.
Schafer was designated for assignment Thursday when the Braves dealt for Emilio Bonifacio from the Chicago Cubs.
Schafer, 27, hit .163 (13-for-80) with Atlanta with four doubles, two RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 63 games. He expressed frustration at a lack of playing time stuck behind Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton. His chances to play should be a little better with the Twins.
“He’s a baserunner, he can steal a little,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He hasn’t had great numbers offensively, but the guy can play. He’s a speed guy. I know he can play some center field. We desperately need that right now to free us up with [Danny] Santana to move him around a little bit, too.”
Schafer, who will wear Sam Fuld’s old uniform No. 1, served a 50-game suspension in 2008 for violating the league’s drug policy. He also was arrested in 2011 for marijuana possession.
“We did our due diligence on Schafer,” assistant GM Rob Antony said, “and were comfortable that he has matured and he is beyond the issues he had in the past.”
The Twins sent lefthander Logan Darnell to Class AAA Rochester to make room for Schafer. They had an open spot on the 40-man roster when they designated Matt Guerrier for assignment late last month.
The Twins said Phil Hughes and Kevin Correia will start against San Diego this week, but they wouldn’t list anyone for the four-game series beginning Thursday in Oakland. That’s because there could be rotation upheaval.
Righthander Trevor May starts Monday for Rochester. He has been building up stamina after missing more than three weeks because of a right calf strain. If that outing goes well, he should be able to throw 90-95 pitches and thus make him a candidate for a callup.
But will there be room? Tuesday, lefthander Tommy Milone will start for Rochester. Milone, acquired from the Athletics for Fuld on Thursday, is expected to be up soon and would be available to start for the Twins on Sunday — against his former team.
Also Tuesday, Ricky Nolasco will make the first of two scheduled rehab starts for Class A Cedar Rapids. He could be set to return to the Twins after that.
Barring setbacks or rain, the Twins should have three pitchers available to place in the rotation by the end of the week.
Gardenhire refused to shed any light when asked how far out the rotation has been scheduled.
“Is that a simple way of saying, ‘Who’s starting in Oakland?’ ” he said. “We’ve got five guys right here. Just keep on going, just keep on putting them in place until you’re told otherwise.”
It looks like they will need Anthony Swarzak to start Thursday in Darnell’s vacated spot.
Kyle Gibson showed that he had nasty stuff early Sunday, striking out Jose Abreu to end the first inning with a sinker that broke in on the slugger.
Gibson went on to pitch seven innings, giving up three runs, to win back-to-back starts for the first time since June. He gave up six hits, struck out six and didn’t walk anyone.
“He had a good angle,” Gardenhire said. “His ball was really moving in. You could see some guys really fighting that thing off on the inner half of the plate. His slider was really sharp with a good angle. He had his pitches and his command.”