OAKLAND, CALIF. – Tommy Milone gets a chance to show his former team what it’s missing.
“That’s the ultimate plan, regardless of the team,” he said. “Go out there and stay with that roll.”
Milone will face the Athletics on Sunday as the Twins and Oakland wrap up a three-game series. And Milone couldn’t be any hotter, having put up a 1.84 ERA over his last seven starts. He has filled out the Twins rotation nicely as the only lefthander.
He spent parts of three seasons with Oakland, going 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 2012, then 12-9, 4.14 in 2013. He was 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA last season when he was sent to the minors when Oakland traded for Jeff Samardzija.
Milone was the odd man out because he had options left.
He requested a trade, and on July 31, he was dealt to the Twins for outfielder Sam Fuld. Milone posted a 7.06 ERA over 21⅔ innings and was an afterthought during the offseason.
As it turned out, Milone needed offseason surgery to remove a benign tumor from his neck. He never used that as an excuse.
Milone made the team out of spring training was but sent to Class AAA Rochester after four starts and a 4.76 ERA with orders to throw more strikes. He forced the Twins to call him back when he gave up only three earned runs over 38⅔ innings for the Red Wings.
Now he can show the A’s how he has moved on since his departure. He won’t be familiar with many hitters, though.
“It’s so different,” Milone said. “Most of the players I know [with Oakland] are pitchers, so that’s not going to help. But it’s just like any other start now. Maybe a little more incentive behind it and more excitement in being back in Oakland, but it is the same game.”
Old man Torii
Torii Hunter arrived at the ballpark Saturday and found the chair in front of the stall in the visitors’ clubhouse had been replaced with an adult rollator — a walker with a seat and wheels. Inside the seat was a package of adult diapers.
That’s how teammates celebrated Hunter’s 40th birthday. Hunter ran with the program, trying on the diapers as the clubhouse roared and then testing out the walker. He found it to be rather comfortable.
“I’m really not that old, but I understand,” Hunter said. “This is awesome. The brakes [on the rollator] work, though.”
Reliever Casey Fien was able to find a rollator in San Francisco and got it to the ballpark before Hunter arrived.
“Great gag gifts,” Hunter said. “They know I’m going to get them back.”
Hunter, after the Twins’ 5-0 victory on Friday, walked around the clubhouse saying it was his last game as a thirty-something player.
“I thought he was going to get a little emotional after the game,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I said, ‘I can relate to that.’ ”
Hunter might be 40 now, but no one in the clubhouse believes that he acts or plays that way.
“To be doing what he’s doing and to be wearing the same uniform size as he did when he was a rookie, from what I hear, just an incredible career,” Molitor said.
Making a difference
With Miguel Sano holding down the designated hitter spot, Molitor acknowledged he will have to be more creative about how he gives Hunter and Joe Mauer time off.
Molitor added he is committed to playing Sano in the field at times. Sano, a third baseman, is learning first. He’s raw over there, but Molitor believes he has the skills to play the position well.
“One thing you find out is that he’s an athlete.” Molitor said. “He’s not just a big-bodied guy who can hit the ball.”