In a move that seemed inevitable, manager Ron Gardenhire announced before the game Saturday that Joe Nathan would replace Matt Capps as the team's closer. Capps would continue to pitch, Gardenhire said, in other relief situations.
Nathan earned the save in the Twins' 4-3 victory Saturday.
"We're going to kind of do a flip-flop and try to get Capps going again," Gardenhire said. "Obviously Capps is kind of fighting it, and we want to get him right. He's a big part of our bullpen."
Capps said the move was probably for the best, but said that -- at least for him -- his psychological state didn't have anything to do with it.Adding a pitcher likely
With 16 more games on the Twins schedule before their next day off, Gardenhire said the team was considering making a roster move to bring up a 13th pitcher before Monday's doubleheader against the Indians.
Gardenhire did not speculate about who the pitcher would be, but one serious candidate would probably be Class AAA Rochester reliever Chuck James, who is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 26 games.
Gardenhire talked very highly of James while the team was in Chicago, and it would make sense to add another middle reliever to a struggling bullpen.
Perhaps the tougher decision would be who to send down in return. Trevor Plouffe is the "last man in," but it seems unlikely they would send him back down so fast, particularly after he played such a big role in Thursday's 8-5 victory over the Royals, hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning that gave the Twins their first lead of the game.
Infielder Luke Hughes, who has filled in at first base, would be another possibility.Slowey on the move?
Perhaps the Twins' best trade chip to help their bullpen is righthander Kevin Slowey, who pitched Friday for Rochester.
Slowey, during an 85-pitch outing, gave up three runs and six hits over 4 2/3 innings, with one walk and three strikeouts. He averaged 91 miles per hour with his fastball but struggled some with his command.
The Blue Jays have scouted him while he's been at Rochester. And, according to a foxsports.com report, the Pirates and Rockies have shown interest.
The Twins have had internal discussions about bringing back righthander Jon Rauch, who has a 4.23 ERA in 39 games with the Blue Jays. Toronto righthander Jason Frasor has a 3.08 ERA and could be a target as well.
Twins trainer Rick McWane said Slowey, who has recovered from an abdominal strain, will have no restrictions his next time out.Draft chatter
The Twins are making progress in negotiations with first-round pick Levi Michael, a shortstop from the University of North Carolina. Michael traveled to the Twin Cities a few days ago for a physical.
The Twins and Michael could agree to deal for around $1.1 million. Lefthander Sean Gilmartin, selected two spots ahead of Michael, signed with Atlanta for $1.134 million. The player selected in front of Michael, shortstop Joe Panik, signed with San Francisco for $1.116 million.
Those bonuses matched the league's recommendation.Getting ready
Right now, Gardenhire said he is looking to get 30-45 at-bats each from Denard Span and Jason Kubel in Rochester before considering reactivating them.
"If they're not swinging good after six games and they're both just scuffling along, we'll add on," he said. "I can't afford to bring people back up here and let them work their way back into shape here. We have to get them ready down there."
Staff writer La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.