Ryan Pressly was standing on the bullpen mound in Norfolk, Va., 10 days ago when Stew Cliburn let him have it.
“He looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing here? You should be embarrassed that you’re standing here,’ ” Pressly recounted of his lecture from the Twins’ Class AAA pitching coach. “ ‘It’s all in your head. You’re good enough to be up [in the major leagues]. You’ve got the pitches.’ It was really what I needed to hear.”
Pressly rejoined the Twins on Tuesday, with four shutout innings for Rochester behind him, and a new task ahead of him: Regaining the trust of Twins manager Paul Molitor. The 28-year-old righthander owns a 9.50 ERA, five home runs allowed in only 18 innings, and another chance in the majors, after Alex Wimmers was optioned back to Rochester on Monday.
“He had a really clean inning the other night, three strikeouts,” Molitor said of Pressly’s minor league detention. “How that’s going to transfer up here, we’ll have to see.”
Pressly, though, believes going through the shock of demotion, after leading the Twins in appearances and relief innings last season, was the best thing for him.
“Mentally, I’m a lot better. I got so far away from who I was, it was tough. And it snowballed on me,” Pressly said. “I’m glad [the demotion] happened. It made me realize I’ve just got to go back to being me. I was being too fine when I was up here. I was always, don’t do this, don’t throw it there.”
That’s how it looked to Molitor, too.
“The biggest thing that I mentioned is he needs to trust the fact that he has an above-average fastball, he’s got a really good curveball and his slider plays,” Molitor said. “But his mind-set that he needs to trick hitters more than he really has to [was a problem]. If he puts the fastball in a good place, he’s going to work ahead more times than not.”
He’ll probably get chances right away, the manager said, given the state of the Twins’ beleaguered bullpen. But probably not those late-inning big moments he tackled last year. Not until he earns them.
“That’s not ideal, to put him in a one-run game in the eighth inning,” Molitor said. “We’ll try to get him in there, but I told him [Tuesday], he’s got to be ready any time the phone rings.”
• Nik Turley will get a second start Friday against the Indians, Molitor said. After watching tape of Turley’s debut in San Francisco, Molitor said he believes nerves were a big reason the rookie lefthander had trouble throwing strikes.
• Hector Santiago threw up to 150 feet Tuesday, and will throw a bullpen session Thursday. But the lefthander, eligible to return from the 10-day disabled list Saturday, is a “long shot” to be activated for that day’s doubleheader, Molitor said. That means a pitcher will be summoned from the minors to make the start.
• Glen Perkins’ fastball was clocked at 86-89 mph during a 21-pitch simulated game in Fort Myers, Fla., Molitor said, and was able to throw sliders as well. Perkins will appear in an extended spring training game Friday, the next step in his recovery from shoulder surgery 15 months ago.
• Phil Hughes (shoulder) has begun a throwing program as he tries to work toward a return. And Justin Haley (biceps) threw Tuesday, with a bullpen session scheduled for Friday.