Matt Shoemaker wanted to object, but he knew it wouldn't overturn the verdict.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli informed the pitcher Thursday he'd no longer be starting for the Twins, instead taking a place in the bullpen. This came after a disastrous start at Kansas City a week ago when he gave up nine runs and left the game in the first inning. Shoemaker said he had trouble drying off his sweaty hands, which contributed to his loss of control.
Bailey Ober took Shoemaker's spot in the rotation Friday against Houston, marking his third major league start.
"I know I'm a good starter. I know I can be a really good starter again. I've not been recently," Shoemaker said of his meeting with Baldelli. "I said, 'Listen, I want to fight you right now and say no, let's not do this.' But realistically, I've not been doing well."
Shoemaker's problems continued Friday at Target Field as he moved to the bullpen. He pitched a perfect eighth inning against Houston, but with the score tied 4-4 in the ninth, he gave up two runs on three hits and was the losing pitcher as the Twins fell 6-4.
Shoemaker has a 2-8 record and 7.35 ERA. He hadn't pitched out of the bullpen since being a closer one year in college at Eastern Michigan. His role among the relievers, as well as how long his spell there might last, is a bit imprecise. But it's likely he'll become a long reliever, something the Twins have been without since Devin Smeltzer went on the injured list May 12.
Shoemaker went to work seeking advice from the strength and conditioning staff, the coaches and other relievers on how to manage that transition.
"Just stay loose because it may take a little longer to get ready," reliever Tyler Duffey said of the wisdom he shared. "But I said, 'You'll learn quickly. It doesn't take as much to get loose as you think, especially when the phone rings, and they say your name, and that adrenaline gets going. You forget about everything else pretty quick.'"
Shoemaker seemed up for that challenge, though of course the goal is to reclaim his starting role as soon as possible.
"I'm in the bullpen right now. I've got to do the best I can to be ready and help this team win and get myself going," he said. "If starting comes up in the future, great. So be it. If it doesn't, so be it."
After a successful rehab game with the St. Paul Saints on Wednesday, Kenta Maeda is set to rejoin the Twins rotation Monday in Seattle.
Maeda pitched four innings, retiring 10 of his first 11 batters, but he hasn't pitched at the major league level since May 22 at Cleveland. He left that game abruptly with a groin injury, which he worked through on the injured list along with some arm soreness.
He has a 5.27 ERA this season with a 2-2 record.
"He'll probably be a little bit lower than a normal start next outing," Baldelli said of any limitations for Maeda. "He threw 54, I believe, on his rehab start. I don't think going from 54 pitches to 100 would make sense, but I think he can give us a good, full start. So we'll let him pitch, and I think the way that the game goes will tell us a lot about what we need to know."
• Alex Kirilloff remained in the Twins lineup Friday, in right field despite leaving Thursday's finale against the Yankees in the second inning with a left ankle sprain. Baldelli said the rookie isn't quite 100%.
• Luiz Arraez, on the injured list since May 26 because of a right shoulder strain, was in the lineup for the Saints on Friday night on a rehab assignment. Baldelli said he was unsure how long this stint would be.
• Byron Buxton's lengthy IL stay continued Friday as the center fielder worked out at Target Field before likely playing again Saturday in St. Paul. A right hip strain has kept him out since May 7.
• Max Kepler (hamstring) still can't sprint at full strength, so he isn't able to begin a rehab assignment.
• Rob Refsnyder is running at about 80% with his left hamstring injury. But Baldelli said the fill-in center fielder was an option in Thursday's game as an emergency first baseman.