Day@Camp Daily Dispatch From Fort Myers
Mejia a starter; Romero to bullpen
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Twins have talked about converting some starters into relievers. And that process is underway.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli confirmed Saturday that righthander Fernando Romero will shift to the bullpen. Meanwhile lefthander Adalberto Mejia, who has been mentioned as a relief option, will remain a starter for now.
Romero debuted with the Twins last season, going 3-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 11 starts. He spent most of the season at Class AAA Rochester, where he was 5-6, 3.57. His fastball averaged 95.4 miles per hour but touched 97 several times. That heater plus a sharp slider make him a good candidate for bullpen duty. The Twins have discussed Romero’s role in the past but wanted him to remain a starter so he could face more hitters and work on a changeup. But his arsenal looks like a better fit for a Twins bullpen that needs power.
“Fernando we look at as a weapon going forward,” Baldelli said, “and a guy that could fill the role as it was described in shorter stints, as someone we rely on to pitch important innings for us. We see him as the kind of guy, with the mentality and the ability to be really impactful, and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Romero was informed of the decision in recent days.
“I’ll give my 100 percent,” Romero said. “I’ll give my best in every opportunity. No matter what role. As a reliever. I’m helping the team.”
Mejia was believed to be in line to move to the bullpen as well, but Baldelli said Saturday that it wasn’t happening. It’s still early in camp, so it’s easier for a team to stretch out a pitcher and then make him a reliever than the other way around.
Romero might be best equipped to be a closer one day, and he’s willing to take on that role too, if needed.
“Well, why not?” Romero said. “ I’ll take it. If that’s going to be my role, I’ll go for it.”
No more waiting for Willians
Willians Astudillo unpacked his gear, was greeted by Baldelli, then began to play catch-up. Again.
For the second straight year, Astudillo was late to report to camp because of visa problems. This year it was only three days. Last season, Astudillo didn’t report to camp until Feb. 24.
“It’s just part of the political issues Venezuela is going through,” Astudillo said.
Astudillo hit .355 in 29 games for the Twins last season, after getting called up from the minors in July. He rarely walks or strikes out and became a fan favorite for his rumbles around the bases.
He has a chance to make the team as a bench player. Being able to catch, play third and even a little left field helps his cause.
“I felt really good with everything I went through last season,” he said. “Now this is a new year. I’m here with my teammates. I’m looking forward to having fun and will see what happens.”
Nearly all position players in camp
Outfielder Eddie Rosario and former first-round pick Royce Lewis reported to camp on Saturday. It’s now more a matter of who has not reported than who has as position players prepare for their first workout Monday. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop are among the few position players who have not reported yet.
Let’s Meet Preston Guilmet
Position: righthander • Age: 31
2018 stats: Gave up 13 earned runs over 10 innings during stints with the Cardinals and Blue Jays.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent Nov. 19.
Role: Likely in the bullpen at Class AAA Rochester.
Did you know? After spending 2016 at Class AAA Toledo, Guilmet sought change. He signed with the Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League and posted a 3.62 ERA over 28 games there in 2017. He has a split-fingered fastball that can be a swing-and-miss pitch.
La Velle E. Neal III