Three days. Three relievers from Class AAA Rochester.
No team wants to burn up the phone line that often for bullpen help, but the Twins have had to do that this week in order to add a fresh arm to their mix of relievers. Zack Littell is the latest, as he was called up Friday to replace fellow righthander Fernando Romero, who was returned to Rochester after letting all four Seattle batters he faced Thursday reach base.
Romero had been called up to replace righthander Ryan Eades, who pitched 1⅔ innings Wednesday in an extra-inning loss to the Mariners.
So the Twins entered Friday’s game against Kansas City hoping to end reliever relay with Rochester.
“Yeah, it is part of the game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It is part of the way that rosters are kind of handled these days. Is it always easy? No, it’s not easy on the players especially. It’s not easy on the organization. It’s definitely not easy on the players. But it’s something that sometimes you do have to do because you have to protect everybody involved.”
Littell will be working as a reliever going forward, Baldelli said. He made seven starts for the Red Wings before being called up and pitching in two games for the Twins last month.
Since returning to Rochester, he has made four relief appearances, posting a 2.35 ERA over 7⅔ innings. He has struck out 13 while walking one, and opponents are batting .115 against him.
Shorter stints allow him to throw a little harder and not worry about changing speeds as much. Sometimes a pitcher’s stuff is sharper when he doesn’t have to worry about pacing himself and just lets it fly.
“He’s a guy that can do some different things, but I think he’s probably at his best when you’re seeing the good fastball in shorter stints, and a good, hard breaking ball and probably relying more on that than anything else,” Baldelli said. “Not that that’s all he’s going to use when he goes out there. But when you’re seeing the best version of him, it’s probably a shortened up version with the stuff picking up.”
Cuban reliever signed
The Twins have agreed to terms with Cuban righthander Yennier Cano, who hit 97 mph on the radar gun during a March workout in Miami in front of scouts. Cano, 25, is expected to be assigned to Class AA Pensacola once he passes a physical and signs.
The Twins had $750,000 in international bonus money left in their budget, and the deadline to spend it is Saturday. They received the $750,000 in bonus money from the Orioles in March in exchange for righthander Xavier Moore, whom they had acquired from Texas in exchange for outfielder Zack Granite.
There are no indications that the Twins hope to fast-track Cano, and just signed him for minor league depth.
During a pregame ceremony, Gov. Tim Walz delivered a proclamation that Saturday will be Joe Mauer Day across the state. Friends, family and former teammates will be on hand as Mauer’s No. 7 will be retired in front of the Target Field crowd.
Several former Twins, including manager Tom Kelly, Rod Carew, Jim Thome, Nick Punto and Michael Cuddyer, were at Friday’s game.
Saturday and Sunday’s games are sellouts, as was Friday’s.