CLEVELAND – He’s the older brother, even if it’s only by 30 seconds, so Taylor Rogers understands his parents’ loyalties toward his younger sibling.
“I’m a little bit of old news at the moment,” Rogers joked.
OK, maybe it has more to do with Taylor establishing himself with five years in the majors, while his identical — albeit righthanded — twin, Tyler, enjoys what he hopes is a breakthrough month as a rookie in the Giants’ bullpen. The 29-year-old side-armer has not allowed a run in 11 of 12 appearances this month, a run of success that his brother has eagerly watched.
“In some ways, I feel like I kind of know the Giants more than I know the Twins. … I get to watch his games more than he gets to watch mine,” the Twins’ closer said.
They talk a lot, always have, even as Tyler languished for most of four seasons in Class AAA. They understand the challenges of being a reliever, of being remembered more for occasional failures than consistent successes. Of having a couple of bad games and having “it take you a month of zeros to get your ERA back.”
So Rogers is very much the proud big brother these days, even if he gets his feelings hurt in the process.
“At Christmas, it was like, ’Where are we going to go watch Ty? What are our plans to go watch Ty?’ ” Rogers said of his parents’ planning. “And I’m like, ‘Hey! I’m still here, too!’ ”
To Kenta, from Taylor
Rogers is gracious toward his teammates, too. After Kenta Maeda took a no-hitter into the ninth inning last Tuesday against the Brewers, the closer allowed two runs, turning Maeda’s memorable victory into a no-decision.
He felt so bad, Rogers decided to send a bottle of expensive liquor to the starter, until he learned from assistant athletic trainer Masa Abe that Maeda doesn’t drink.
Rogers asked Abe for an alternative idea. Abe’s reply: Some expensive Japanese rice.
“I was like, ‘Well, that doesn’t seem very good.’ I feel like, ‘Here’s a pack of Skittles,’ I don’t know,” Rogers said. “He said, ‘No, no, that’s for real a thing, and he’ll love it.’ ”
He did. Maeda posted a video on YouTube, where he has 274,000 subscribers, discussing Rogers’ gesture.
“This made me happy, because I don’t think there are many pitchers out there who care this much to go out of their way to do this,” Maeda said, according to a translation on the site. “He’s a great teammate. That’s basically what I wanted to say.”
For most MLB players, there are two seasons: the 60-game regular season, and the monthlong playoffs.
Maeda has a third season, and he embarked on it Monday: bonus season.
Maeda, whom the Dodgers feared might someday require major shoulder surgery, signed an unusual contract in coming to the United States in 2016, one that the Twins inherited. It calls for the Japanese righthander to earn a low starting salary, just $3 million per year, but have as much as $10 million in bonuses if he stays healthy and effective.
This season, the numbers in those clauses, like every player’s salary, were prorated to 37%, since teams are playing 60 games instead of 162. And Maeda on Monday hit the first couple of triggers, earning a payoff worth $462,962.
Maeda, 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA, will be paid an extra $370,370 for making his sixth start, the prorated level of a $1 million bonus for 15 starts in a normal year. He’ll get the same amount once he makes his eighth start (his prorated 20th), and the payout will be even larger every two or three starts for the rest of the year.
For passing 33⅓ innings, or 37% of the original 90-inning requirement, he gets $92,592, the same bonus he’ll get for every 3⅔ innings (rather than 10 innings) for the rest of the season.
• One day after being drilled by a line drive on his pitching arm, reliever Tyler Clippard was “in as good a shape and spirits as we could ask,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He thinks he could be pitching in the very near future,” so the Twins are going to wait to make a decision about the injured list. “We may have escaped a very serious situation,” Baldelli said.
• As the Twins began taking the field a couple of hours before first pitch Monday, so did the Progressive Field grounds crew. Fearing a squall that might blossom into rain, they covered the field, preventing the Twins from taking batting practice. But it never rained, a fact that clearly annoyed Twins coaches on the field.