CHICAGO – Friday was a stressful day, Paul Molitor admits, and that was before the Twins suffered a 10-4 loss. Casey Fien and Tommy Milone had been placed on waivers, meaning they were probably in uniform for the final time, at least for now — and they knew it.
Worse, he wasn’t allowed, under MLB rules, to say anything about it.
“There was an awkwardness about the day yesterday that was uncomfortable for me. You have relationships, at least you try to, with your players, and because of circumstances, you’re a little bit limited in how you can address those things,” Molitor said. “So I tried to express that to both of those guys today, that it was a hard day for everybody involved.”
Waivers are intended to be confidential, but word occasionally leaks, particularly near the trade deadline. Fien and Milone were aware of published reports of their imminent departure but had to suit up anyway.
“I’ve got this uniform right here,” Fien said Friday. “I think I’m still on the team.”
By Saturday, he wasn’t. Fien was claimed by the Dodgers and late in the day was still awaiting word about whether he’ll be in the majors or sent to Class AAA Oklahoma City. Milone, who passed through waivers unclaimed, was outrighted to Rochester and could return once he’s pitching well again.
“Given the circumstances,” Molitor said, “I was trying not to bring them in the game [Friday], to be honest.”
Molitor said it was hard delivering the news, particularly with Fien, who has been with the Twins since 2012 and was one of the most popular players in the clubhouse. His ERA was below 4.00 every year until this one, but his 7.90 ERA in 14 appearances finally ended his stint in Minnesota.
“He’s pitched really well for this team. He had some pretty significant roles over his time here,” Molitor said. “I don’t have anything but good things to say about what he’s done here.”
Dean, Kintzler called up
Pat Dean texted Milone on Saturday to thank him for all the advice he has offered in the past couple of years, advice that Dean says finally helped him reach the major leagues. Ironically, Dean then moved into the locker that Milone had occupied just one day earlier.
“He’s been a huge help for me. He helped me get my confidence back,” Dean said. “This spring, he helped me work on my curveball.”
That mix of pitches helped Dean, a lefthander who was the Twins’ third-round pick in 2010, win 16 games and post a 2.72 ERA in three seasons at Class AAA. And on Friday, it earned him his first trip to the major leagues, where he will fill a long-relief role in the bullpen.
“I’m still in shock. I’m really excited for the game tonight,” said Dean, whose wife Katie, parents and brother were scrambling to get to Chicago from their Connecticut home. “I’m not sure what kind of emotions I’m gong to have when I get my shot.”
For Brandon Kintzler, who also was promoted to the majors Saturday and pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings, his emotion is mostly relief. A veteran of six seasons with the Brewers, the sinker ball pitcher feared his career was ruined by a torn patella in his left knee that required surgery and a long rehab. “I didn’t know if it was ever going to be the same. But the pain went away,” the 31-year-old righthander said.
He nearly made the Twins in training camp, after an anxious month as a nonroster invitee. “It was very, very stressful. The anxiety was crazy,” he said. “There’s so much riding on each outing, you feel like you’ve got to be perfect. If you give up a hit, you’re not going to make the team.”
Escobar placed on DL
Eduardo Escobar’s groin injury was still sore on Saturday, so the Twins placed him on the disabled list and recalled utility infielder Jorge Polanco from Rochester. Escobar shouldn’t need more than 15 days to recover, General Manager Terry Ryan said.