When the Twins have a tenuous lead of one or two runs in the eighth inning, manager Rocco Baldelli hasn’t hesitated to call upon Taylor Rogers to get more outs than most closers are ever asked to get these days. Which is why Rogers has six saves of two or more innings this season, or four more than any other AL reliever.
But what if the Twins add to their lead after Rogers enters? Wouldn’t it be prudent to remove Rogers, saving the workload on his valuable left arm?
Baldelli has been confronted with that situation twice in the past two weeks — and he has made his preference clear. It’s Rogers for the win.
If you remove him, Baldelli said, “you don’t have the option of ever going back to him if circumstances change. So you’d better feel confident if you’re going to take him out.”
Besides, Baldelli said, Rogers has shown he can bounce back quickly, making himself available a day after working in a game, even if he pitches two innings.
“We have fully capable guys that can pitch the ninth inning and finish the game for us,” Baldelli said. “But knowing Rog can recover and go out there the day after going two innings, [it’s an advantage]. We’re not going to do it every time, but he’s capable of doing it.”
Rogers has been more than capable lately. In his past seven appearances entering Friday, totaling 10⅔ innings, Rogers gave up four singles, no walks and no runs. He faced 35 batters, struck out 14 of them, and went 5-for-5 in save situations.
“Rog has done, obviously, a fantastic job,” Baldelli said. “He’s an elite reliever.”
It’s a hot one
The Twins wore shorts, rather than the standard uniform pants, during batting practice Friday, and Baldelli told his players not to stay on the field longer than necessary. The temperature at first pitch was 94 degrees — tied for the second-hottest in Target field history — and the Twins were wary of strength-sapping humidity.
They were also happy that this weather is a rarity in Minnesota.
“I feel very fortunate that we only have to deal with it for a [short] period of time. There are a lot of other players and teams that deal with this for most of the season,” Baldelli said. “They’re playing 81 games at home, and they’re dealing with this for 50 games, as opposed to a month or a month and a half that we’re dealing with up here.”
The hottest game at Target Field was in 2012, when it was 97 degrees at first pitch of a July 16 victory over Baltimore.
After undergoing a series of concussion tests Thursday, center fielder Byron Buxton was told to rest and recover Friday, particularly given the hot weather. But the Twins expect Buxton to be able to handle a baseball workout on the field sometime this weekend, Baldelli said. He becomes eligible to come off the concussion list Sunday, but it’s too early to say whether that will happen.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop (abdomen) took batting practice and fielded ground balls Friday and could play in the next day or two, the manager said. “If we thought he was going to go on the IL, we’d probably be close to making that decision right now,” Baldelli said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I should probably wait until after today.”
• Jesus Medina, a 17-year-old righthander on the Twins’ Dominican League team, was suspended for 72 games, the commissioner’s office announced. Medina tested positive for stanozolol, the same steroid that triggered major league suspensions for the Twins’ Ervin Santana in 2015 and Jorge Polanco last year.
• Umpire Quinn Wolcott, knocked out of Thursday’s game after taking a C.J. Cron foul ball off his mask, went home to Phoenix on Friday to be examined by his physician. He was replaced by fill-in ump Ryan Additon.