NEW YORK – As if the Twins have enough reports to study before games. Now they are basing decisions on weather forecasts.
With snow expected in the Twins Cities this week, the Twins are concerned that it will upset the schedule they have for lefthander Martin Perez to merge into the rotation next Tuesday. That’s when they will need a fifth starter.
So the Twins planned to use Perez during this week’s series against the Mets, in case games are affected by weather when the Tigers roll into town.
“This is probably going to complicate things, but we have to at least think about what is going to happen when we get home, too,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, “because we have not just an odd and challenging schedule. We now have potentially 2 inches to 2 feet of snow greeting us when we get home.
“So we have to start thinking about the potential of doubleheaders. We have to starting thinking about a lot of different things.”
With a major league-high five off days before Friday, the Twins opened the season with an 11-man pitching staff. That included Perez, who impressed in spring training with a stronger fastball and solid breaking pitches.
In order to keep him built up as a starter, they used Perez in a piggyback role. He followed Michael Pineda on March 31 against Cleveland and Jake Odorizzi on Friday against Philadelphia.
Perez has gotten his work in, all right. He’s thrown 154 pitches in 6 ⅓ innings during those two games. But he needs one more outing to stay on track.
Meanwhile, Target Field hosted a pregame mixer for Texas Tech fans Monday before the NCAA men’s national championship game. Fans hung out in areas of the park that will be covered by snow in a few days, if forecasts hold up.
“Needless to say, we are watching situation closely and preparing for multiple scenarios,” said Twins president Dave St. Peter, who noted that all precipitation should end by game time Friday. “Hope to have more clarity Wednesday.”
Cruz still idle
It looks as if designated hitter Nelson Cruz is going to go eight days and five games without starting a game, thanks to interleague play.
Cruz was not in the starting lineup again Tuesday as Baldelli kept his first choice outfield of Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler intact. The only position Cruz can play is outfield — he has spent the majority of that time in right. Despite his being tied for the team lead with six RBI, Baldelli has found it difficult to get him a start.
The only appearance Cruz has made on this trip has been as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning on Sunday in Philadelphia.
“At some point you have to make the decision as to what is the most responsible way to use him,” Baldelli said, “so when we get back into our American League games he is ready to be out there and be getting his at-bats on a regular basis and he is ready to go.”
Twins assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner on Monday returned to the park where he pitched in 2012 and 2013 while with the Mets. Several current Mets, like Michael Conforto and Juan Legares, were his teammates as he rose through the minors.
He also had LaTroy Hawkins, R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey — all former Twins — as teammates with the Mets.
“They helped shape my two years here,” Hefner said. “They were veterans and well-established and showed me the way and showed me how to be a big leaguer, how to treat people … and to handle the media.”