KANSAS CITY, MO. – New Twins righthander Pat Light is looking forward to drawing a different reaction from fans than his first two appearances in the major leagues.
Light made his debut on April 26 when he was with the Red Sox but gave up two runs in one inning to the Braves. He was sent back to Class AAA Pawtucket but was summoned again a couple of months later.
He made a relief appearance July 2 — when the Red Sox lost 21-2 to the Angels. He gave up five earned runs over 1 ⅔ innings — including home runs by C.J. Cron and Carlos Perez. Light was booed off the field and hasn’t appeared in a major league game since.
“Got booed pretty heavily there,” he said. “I think that prepares you for anyone. Not sure I’ll see a much tougher crowd than that one that day.”
If he can use his hard fastball and sharp split-fingered fastball to his advantage, the boos will stop. Twins fans will see Light soon at Target Field, because he was called up Sunday to help keep the bullpen from being worn out. Light was acquired from the Red Sox on Aug. 1 in exchange for lefthander Fernando Abad.
The Twins were interested in Light because they desperately need more velocity in their bullpen. Light’s fastball averaged 96.3 miles per hour in his brief stints with the Red Sox, but he hit 100 mph a few times after joining Class AAA Rochester. His split-fingered fastball has averaged 87.6 mph, which, according to fangraphs.com, is the exact same speed as Tommy Milone’s fastball. Light, who also throws an occasional slider, will throw the splitter half the time.
Light, 25, was 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in six outings with Rochester before being promoted on Sunday. He doesn’t figure to be used in high-leverage situations unless manager Paul Molitor is low on options, and he could be used in more than one inning.
“Another new guy that we hope is part of our future that I’m looking forward to watch pitch,” Molitor said.
Light was drafted by the Twins out of high school in 2009 but didn’t sign. Still, the Twins have seen plenty of him through the years because he has pitched against some of their minor league teams as well as spring training games.
“Yeah, I see a lot of these guys,” Light said. I’ve thrown to a bunch of them, watched some of them throw. I’m familiar with a lot of them.”
Even Molitor wondered Sunday morning what was going on with Byron Buxton, who had been limited to one pinch-running appearance at Class AAA Rochester because of illness.
“I’m going to do some digging here,” Molitor said.
There was no need to worry. Buxton returned to the Red Wings lineup Sunday and tripled on the first pitch of the game against Gwinnett. Buxton finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game and is batting .226 with 12 strikeouts in 10 games since being demoted on Aug. 7.
Milone (biceps), lefthander Buddy Boshers (elbow) and righthander Trevor May all are in the middle of throwing programs and have made enough progress that the Twins believe they could be ready to pitch by the end of August.
There would be just enough time for them to go out on minor league assignments, if that’s the case. Rochester, Class AA Chattanooga and Class A Fort Myers all finish their seasons around Labor Day. Chattanooga and Fort Myers could make the playoffs.
Molitor turns 60 Monday, which coincides with a scheduled day off. He is not sure how he will celebrate his birthday, other than knowing he will be with his wife and children.
“There are plans being made for me,” he said. “I will be a willing participant.’’