KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Telling Alex Meyer he was headed back to Rochester wasn’t the only tough news Paul Molitor delivered Friday night. He also had a new destination for Trevor May: the bullpen.
May, 4-7 with a 4.37 ERA as a starter, will serve as a reliever at least until the All-Star Break, Molitor said, in order to make room for Ervin Santana. The move probably isn’t permanent, Molitor said, but it made the most sense to him in the short term.
“We’ll have to decide eventually long-term, if we want to see how that works out,” Molitor said, “or if getting into a rotation down below [at Class AAA Rochester] would be helpful in terms of keeping him ready to help us if something happens to one of our guys. We’ll decide that somewhere along the way.”
May took the news “great,” Molitor said, but he was clearly disappointed. On the other hand, he said, he’s glad he gets to stay in the major leagues.
“I’ve got to be thankful for that, and that they have the faith that I can go down to the pen and contribute,” the 26-year-old second-year righthander said. “My stuff has played pretty well, and I think it can be effective in the pen, too, in any situation.”
May’s first four starts in June were eye-opening, with just five runs and 24 strikeouts in 24 innings. That’s a 1.88 ERA, though the Twins somehow went 1-3 in those starts. He also leads the team in strikeouts and is third in strikeout/walk ratio. But when it was suggested that Molitor wouldn’t have made this decision two weeks ago, May disagreed.
“Honestly, I don’t know how much [recent] results had to do with it. You can’t really make a case that any of us shouldn’t be [in the rotation]. We’ve all been pretty good in general, that’s how I feel.”
But he knew this was coming, with Santana scheduled to pitch Sunday after serving his 80-game steroids suspension. Now he’ll focus on altering his normal pitching pattern. “It’ll be a little different getting warmed up, monitoring my throwing on a day-to-day basis, because I had a pretty extensive routine,” May said. “It’ll be a matter of doing the same amount of work, just spreading it out differently. But I have the arm durability to do it.”
He’s not available today, having started Wednesday in Cincinnati, when he gave up one earned run in 6 1/3 innings. We’ll see if being shorthanded in the bullpen is a hindrance with Mike Pelfrey on the mound.
Here are tonight’s lineups for the 6:15 p.m. start — by the way, it’s on Fox’s national channel (KMSP in the Twin Cities), not Fox Sports North tonight. Both teams will be wearing the stars-and-stripes uniforms for the Fourth of July.