NEW YORK – The Twins did sign Blake Parker as a free agent but, despite several relievers with proven track records on the market, they stopped there.
They did, however, sign a few minor league free agents.
The Twins currently have two righthanded relievers in Ryne Harper and Mike Morin, whose signings had the impact of a feather hitting the floor. But both are in the major leagues, with Morin being called up Thursday.
Harper had a stellar spring training to make the Opening Day roster and has been functional when called upon, posting a 2.13 ERA thanks to big breaking curve and well-spotted fastball.
Now he has been joined by Morin, an Andover native who reeled off eight scoreless appearances in spring training before faltering late and starting the season at Class AAA Rochester. He posted a 2.25 ERA there before the Twins summoned him Thursday to replace the injured Adalberto Mejia on the roster, and he came in to pitch two innings in relief of Kyle Gibson on Friday, retiring six of the seven batters he faced but giving up Gary Sanchez’s second home run of the game.
“We didn’t know coming into the season, even coming into spring training, we didn’t know exactly how things would work out,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve had some guys throw the ball exceptionally well, we’ve had some other guys that have had a few bumps but to have those guys step up and fill roles for us is very important.”
Morin, who turned 28 Friday, appeared in 186 major league games from 2014 to ’18. So Baldelli won’t be afraid to bring him in with runners on base if he needs to stop a scoring threat.
Morin’s go-to pitch in his changeup, which he can throw at different speeds to get hitters off balance. He has a changeup he throws to lefthanders and another one to righthanders.
“I think that means something,” Baldelli said. “I think it gives him something to rely on because there are going to be times where he’s going to be asked to face not just righthanders but lefthanders and I think the changeup can be something that he uses but he’s a guy that he has experience.”
Expectations for Sano
Third baseman Miguel Sano began his stint at Class AA Pensacola on Friday as he works his way back to the majors. Sano, who is going through his own spring training after a laceration above his heel knocked him out of camp, will play a handful of games with the Blue Wahoos before moving to Class AAA Rochester. The hope is that he is ready by May 12.
Baldelli would not say if Sano needed to be productive during his minor league rehabilitation stint or just get some games in before he is taken off the injured list.
“There’s not really one or two things in particular that we are looking for,” Baldelli said. “We’re looking for just steady progress where we can look up hopefully in a couple of weeks and be able to make an assessment at that point. He’s on a track to do all of that.”
In the Yankees’ James Paxton, the Twins on Friday faced a lefthanded starter for only the second time this season. They lost a game started by the Astros’ Wade Miley on April 23.
Catcher Mitch Garver led off for the fourth time this season. Lefthanded-hitting Max Kepler was not the leadoff hitter for the second time, batting seventh.
“We just have to deal with whatever comes our way,” Baldelli said. “Not getting our guys, especially our switch hitters, that many at-bats against lefthanded pitching is a little unfortunate. It would be helpful to us if we had faced some more lefties.”
Baldelli said the staff will remind players in advance that a lefty is coming up on the schedule. In this case, two — J.A. Happ will start Saturday.