CHICAGO – Don’t call it a six-man rotation. But the Twins will use six starting pitchers for the rest of the season.
Phil Hughes will make his first start since Aug. 9 on Tuesday vs. Detroit, an admittedly ambitious timetable after his lower-back injury but necessary, Paul Molitor said, given the Twins’ spot in the standings.
“It’s not really a normal thing you would probably consider early in the year, to bring him out there without some kind of rehab game,” Molitor said. But he and pitching coach Neil Allen “feel it’s the right thing to get him in a game. … Given where we’re at, in the limited amount of games we have to play, we decided to put him out there.”
Same goes for Tyler Duffey, the rookie who was given a couple of extra days of rest in consideration of his career-high 171 innings pitched this season. The Twins aren’t certain how many more starts to give him, but it’s a decent bet that he won’t go more than once a week.
Which is where Mike Pelfrey comes in. The veteran righthander won’t go to the bullpen but he won’t pitch every five days, either. “We still have him scheduled to pitch. We’re going to try to keep him as strong as we can,” Molitor said. “Once we can tell him when he’s going to pitch again, it will probably affect some of the side work he does.”
Molitor wouldn’t call it a six-man rotation, since the half-dozen pitchers will be shuffled around as needed, giving extra rest here and there and trying to get his pitchers in favorable matchups. Pelfrey, for instance, is much more effective in Target Field this year (2.35 ERA) than on the road (5.85), so he’s unlikely to get another road start.
Hughes understands and agrees with the rushed schedule. “With 20-some games left in the season, we might as well see how much I can provide,” the righthander said.
That’s probably 75 pitches Tuesday, after he worked for 45 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday, then threw another 15 in the bullpen.
Suzuki back in there
Kurt Suzuki’s phone was buzzing with messages of concern before he got back to his locker Wednesday after being carried off the field, most with the sentiment: Don’t watch the replay.
That’s because it appeared as if his left knee bent in the wrong direction, certain to produce a serious injury. Instead, the knee was merely bruised, and Suzuki was back in the lineup Friday.
“We got a little bit lucky,” Molitor said.
Suzuki was examined again, but because his left foot wasn’t planted in the dirt and gave way as he was hit, the knee didn’t take the brunt of the blow, he said.
“That was kind of a scary moment there, but fortunately everything worked out,” he said.
Suzuki received hope-you’re-OK texts from Royals outfielder Jonny Gomes and coach Don Wakamatsu, among others, but nothing from Jarrod Dyson, who collided with Suzuki as he made the game-saving tag.
Dyson “said something to me, too. He was telling me I was blocking the plate,” Suzuki said. “I didn’t really appreciate that much, but in the heat of the moment, guys are battling for the win. That run would have won the game, but if he was in my situation, he wouldn’t have appreciated that, either.”
• Molitor on Class AA Chattanooga outfielder Max Kepler, who delivered a walk-off single in a Southern League playoff game Thursday: “He’s going to be here next year, at some point. … We’re still open to [him coming up this season].”
• The Twins activated righthander J.R. Graham (right shoulder inflammation) from the disabled list.