BOSTON – It’s been an aggravating, unsatisfying season for Trevor Hildenberger, who at this point last season, had saved five consecutive games as the Twins’ post-Fernando Rodney closer. But the season isn’t over yet.
Hildenberger, one of three pitchers added to the Twins roster Tuesday, would like to pitch in October.
“That’s everyone’s goal. But I’m just here to help in any way I can, to show that I can get outs again,” the side-arming righthander said after being recalled along with Fernando Romero and Ryne Harper. The additions bring the Twins pitching staff to 21 members, counting injured starter Kyle Gibson. “Not only is everyone here trying to audition for the postseason roster, [we’re] auditioning for a job next year.”
Hildenberger, 28, had one this spring. But after opening the season with 11 scoreless appearances, things fell apart. He gave up 13 runs in his next 6⅓ innings and was sent down to Class AAA Rochester. Then things got worse: He began feeling pain in his right elbow, and when it became too severe to pitch with, he was shut down for two months and sent to Fort Myers, Fla., to recover.
“It was a pretty boring way to spend the summer,” Hildenberger said of his workout schedule. “But at least I got to watch [the Twins] tear through the American League,” albeit on television.
Hildenberger was reactivated Aug. 20, and closed his minor league season with 8⅓ scoreless innings. He is confident the mechanical problems that tripped him up in May have been solved, and he said he has never felt healthier.
“It’s great being back, and being healthy again. I’m excited,” he said. “I don’t know yet how many opportunities [to pitch] I’ll get, but I want to capitalize on every one of them.”
Confidence in Wade
LaMonte Wade Jr. doesn’t have a major league hit yet, but he has already received a compliment about his hitting ability that might mean more.
The rookie outfielder was handed the responsibility of igniting an eighth-inning rally Monday at Detroit when Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, his team down by a run, chose him to pinch hit for Willians Astudillo.
“The one thing we know when we send [Wade] out there, he’s generally going to give you good plate appearances,” Baldelli said. “Going to swing at good pitches. Going to force the pitcher into the [strike] zone. That’s what he’s done.”
And that’s what he did. Though he was 0-for-4 in his nascent career, Wade didn’t get overanxious. He took a Buck Farmer slider for a strike, then watched four pitches sail out of the zone. Two outs later, he was on third base when Max Kepler singled him and Luis Arraez home.
“It comes with preparation, being ready when your name’s called,” said the 25-year-old, who also started in Tuesday’s 6-5 victory over the Red Sox, going 0-for-3 with a walk. “I know [that first hit] will come, and when it happens, I’ll be grateful and excited. But drawing a walk was what the team needed, and I’m happy I helped the team win.”
• Baldelli was surrounded by New England media members before Tuesday’s game. The native Rhode Islander, who played one season for the Red Sox, remains extremely popular in the area. “I’ve always felt supported, whether it’s from Boston folks or people from Providence and Rhode Island,” the Woonsocket, R.I., native said. “It’s a great feeling.”
• To celebrate their fantasy football draft Monday, the Twins all wore NFL jerseys on their flight from Detroit. Baldelli, no stranger to public relations, said he chose to wear an Alan Page jersey. “A Vikings Hall of Famer — though I’ve certainly pulled for the Patriots for a very long time, too,” he said. “Anytime you get together as a group and do something, it just brings out a lot of smiles, and a lot of fun.”