Not since Pat Neshek in 2009 have the Twins had a sidearmed pitcher in their bullpen. They might give another one a chance soon.
Cody Eppley, who appeared in 59 games out of the Yankees bullpen last year and posted a 3.33 ERA, was signed to a minor league contract by the Twins on Thursday and assigned to Class AAA Rochester.
“We saw him [in Class AAA] and New York last year, and [our scouts] thought maybe he could help us,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “But first, he’s got to get the work done at Rochester.”
That’s no sure thing, considering how this season has gone for the former 43rd-round draft pick. Eppley was released a week ago by the Yankees after giving up 18 runs on 30 hits and 15 walks — all in only 19 innings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That 8.53 ERA convinced the Yankees to drop him, but “our reports on him were good enough to pursue him,” Ryan said.
Anthony Slama’s rise through the Twins farm system was a fast one. After being selected in the 39th round of the 2007 draft, the righthander climbed four levels in only three seasons, arriving at Class AAA Rochester, his fifth pro team, in 2009.
But Slama never could take that last, biggest step to stick in the major leagues.
The Orange County native, now 29 years old, was released Thursday, his Twins career stalled one step short of Minneapolis for four years.
“He’d been in Rochester four or five years,” Ryan said. “I don’t doubt that maybe he got a little stale there. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good.”
Slama received two short opportunities with the Twins, in late July of 2010 and in May of 2011, totaling seven games overall. His major league career amounts to seven innings, 34 batters faced overall, with a 5.14 ERA.
“He really couldn’t hold a runner, he was so slow to home,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That was one of the reasons he got sent back down.”
Slama piled up 102 saves in his years in the Twins’ system and had some amazing strikeout totals. He struck out 455 hitters overall in 338⅓ innings and, until this season, always had more strikeouts than innings.
But injuries have held him back for two seasons, and he had only 13 innings — with an 0-4 record and a 13.50 ERA — this season.
• The Twins agreed to contracts Thursday with two catchers drafted last week. Stuart Turner, selected in the third round, and Brian Navaretto, the Twins’ sixth-round pick, have both agreed to terms with the Twins. Both are catchers, Turner from the University of Mississippi and Navaretto a high school player from Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville, Fla.
• Trevor Plouffe was eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, but he remains in Rochester playing and rehabbing his strained calf. “The last thing I want to do is bring him back if he’s not ready, so that will probably dictate his return,” Ryan said.
• Wilkin Ramirez “is not showing any signs of complications from the concussion” he suffered May 25 in Detroit, Ryan said, and the outfielder is taking batting practice with the Twins this week as he prepares to be reinstated.
• Righthander Ryan Pressly was back in the Twins bullpen Thursday after being sent home sick the day before.
• Righthanded reliever Jared Burton suffered a slight groin strain over the weekend in Washington, but has recovered.