OAKLAND, Calif. — The Twins have solved their recurring too-many-starters problems once again, and in a surprising way: By sending Phil Hughes to the bullpen.
Kyle Gibson will return from the disabled list on Thursday, manager Paul Molitor announced Monday, and start that night against Tampa Bay. Hughes will be available for long relief.
It makes sense from the standpoint of experience — Hughes was a reliever with the Yankees in 2009, even earned a trio of saves. And when he returned from his back ailment last September, he worked twice out of the pen.
But it’s still a bit of a shock, given the Twins’ investment — roughly $46 million more owed Hughes between now and 2019 — in the veteran starter.
“We have a five-man rotation, not six, so we had to make a decision,” Molitor said. “Phil was good. He understood. He handled it very professionally. He said he’s going to go out there and try to help us out.”
It’s not exactly a permanent solution, of course, given that the Twins have already used nine different starting pitchers this season, and have another potential starter, Taylor Rogers, in the bullpen already. Molitor said as much, noting that “in the short term, we want to keep Pat [Dean] in there.”
Hughes, one of several Twins pitchers who had a disastrous month of May — at 1-7, he leads the majors in losses and currently owns a 5.74 ERA — will mostly pitch in long relief, Molitor said, since he’s already stretched out for 100 pitches.
Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe will both start tomorrow, Molitor said, to give them one more workout and one more day of rest before returning from minor injuries. And Byung Ho Park is out of the lineup today, too, after going 1-for-11 in Seattle. He’s in the throes of a 3-for-36 slump. Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer, on the other hand, are on a power streak, with Sano attempting to tie the franchise record for consecutive games with a home run. He has four; Harmon Killebrew (three times) and Marty Cordova had five-game streaks.
The Twins and A’s are wearing “camouflage” style uniforms today in honor of Memorial Day. The game is televised on ESPN, not Fox Sports North.
Here are the lineups:
D. Santana CF
E. Santana RHP