Aaron Slegers, the first Class AAA pitcher to win 15 games as a Twins prospect since 2004, won't be able to make his start in the International League playoffs next week. He's got a different pennant race to pitch in.
The 6-10 righthander, who gave up two hits over 6⅓ innings vs. Cleveland in his major league debut last month, will start at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
"He's done what he's needed to do," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Slegers' past two starts for the Rochester Red Wings: 14⅔ innings, six runs (3.68 ERA), 20 strikeouts and only one walk. "I like how he matches up against the [Tampa Bay] lineups a little bit, too."
Slegers, who turns 25 Monday, has pitched 154⅔ innings this year, roughly as many as in the previous two seasons, so a series of starts in September (or beyond) might be a big jump in his usage. But Molitor said it's too early to worry much about that.
"We don't feel it will be an issue at this time," and the team hasn't set an upper limit, Molitor said. "We'll have to monitor it as he gets to areas he hasn't gotten before."
The 2013 fifth-round pick will take the spot of Dillon Gee, the veteran righthander who, like Slegers, gave up only two hits in his first start for the Twins. Gee's past two starts amounted to nine runs in 6⅔ innings, though, and Molitor wants to return him to a long-relief role.
Jason Castro said he is completely healthy again. And his paperwork is in order, too.
The catcher passed the medical tests necessary to satisfy MLB's concussion rules Saturday, and by late Sunday morning, both MLB and the player's association had given their OK, too. The Twins took Castro off the disabled list, clearing him to play in Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Royals, though he never did.
Castro suffered a concussion when he was hit in the mask by a Jose Abreu foul ball in Chicago on Aug. 22.
Sano will stay home
Miguel Sano will not accompany the Twins to Tampa Bay and Kansas City this week, though Molitor said he is optimistic again that the third baseman is making progress from a stress reaction in his shin. But for now, Sano has not been cleared to resume swinging a bat.
"He's got more energy, more excitement about the fact that he's feeling better," Molitor said before Sunday's game. "I just saw him in the weight room, he's smiling. He's put some work in to try to keep himself as ready as he can when he gets clearance to swing a bat. [But] I still don't have a timetable when that's going to be."
Shooting for 20 homers
Eduardo Escobar followed up his second career two-homer game Saturday with another blast Sunday, giving him 15 home runs on the season. With four weeks remaining, it's possible that the infielder could reach 20 for the season, a level that three of his teammates — Sano (28), Brian Dozier (27) and Eddie Rosario (20) — already have reached, and a fourth, Max Kepler (17), is approaching, too.
Should Kepler and Escobar both make it, it would mark the first time since 1986 that the Twins have had five 20-homer players in a season. That year, Tom Brunansky, Gary Gaetti, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett and Roy Smalley hit the milestone.
Escobar's three-homer binge comes after he hit only two during August, and the veteran switch hitter said he understands what's changed.
"I was being too anxious, trying to do too much," he said. "I had to calm down and [realize] I don't have to play hero every day."