CLEVELAND – Phil Hughes returned to the Twins rotation Wednesday against the Indians after Tommy Milone went down because of shoulder fatigue.
But Hughes in recent days came down the same illness that has affected a handful of his teammates. So he was scratched from his start Monday against the Indians … and replaced by Milone.
You can’t make this up. The Twins starting rotation has been a season-long soap opera. “As the Rotation Turns.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was on the treadmill when Twins manager Paul Molitor called him around 3 p.m. local time to tell him of the change.
“If you think about who is going to need 100 percent of their energy out there on the field on any given day, your starting pitcher is going to exert as much as anybody,” Molitor said. “So it is probably not fair to Phil or our team to try to push that issue. Not sure what we would get.”
Milone, Molitor said, had the best chance of getting deep into the game among available options. Sure enough, Milone lasted 5⅔ innings, giving up two runs on 82 pitches.
Hughes said he has been sick the past couple of days, with body aches and sweats. The Twins were aware of his condition, but they hoped he would feel better by Monday.
As it turned out, Monday morning was the worst Hughes felt. That made the decision to scratch him an easy one.
“I told [trainer Dave Pruemer] that I didn’t sleep well and had sweats during the night,” Hughes said. “They have scheduled an IV [for Monday evening]. When I got here, Mollie said we’re going to go with Tommy.”
Hughes was hooked up to the IV for about 20 minutes, then sent back to the team hotel to recover. The Twins will try to get Hughes healthy to start Saturday against Kansas City.
Hughes is being affected by the same bug that has hit Trevor Plouffe, Brian Duensing, Kevin Jepsen and others in the clubhouse. Plouffe missed Sunday’s game in Detroit. Duensing and Jepsen were available out of the bullpen Monday, although Duensing said he coughed through the night Sunday and woke up with neck soreness. The timing couldn’t be worse, as there is a lot on the line for the Twins this week.
Righthander Jeff Manship compiled a 6.46 ERA over six major league seasons, including 41 games with the Twins from 2009 to 2012. He started some, relieved a lot and failed to find his niche.
That has changed this season. He signed with Cleveland as a free agent and was called up from the minor leagues on June 18. He has been a find, posting a 0.97 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen.
Manship has moved to the third base side of the rubber, junked his four-seam fastball and relies on sinkers, sliders and better command.
A Twins 14th-round pick in 2006, he has a chance to become the first Indians pitcher with at least 30 appearances to have a sub-1.00 ERA.
Duensing said Manship is easy to pull for because he worked hard and was well-respected when he was with the Twins. He just hopes Manship doesn’t lower his ERA during this four-game series.
“Even when he was here, he went about his business the right way,” Duensing said. “Always want them to do well. And for him to come in here and throw as well as he has, it’s fun to watch.
“He’s throwing against us this week, so I’m hoping he doesn’t get it, from that aspect. But that’s amazing.”
To accommodate Fox’s national television coverage, Saturday’s game between the Twins and Royals at Target Field has been moved from 6:10 p.m. to 12:05 p.m.
It will be the second time the Twins have been on Fox this year and their fifth national TV appearance overall.