OAKLAND, CALIF. – After watching one newcomer make his first start, the Twins made room for another.
Tommy Milone, acquired from the Athletics at the trade deadline, will start for the Twins on Monday in Houston, replacing Kevin Correia, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers during Saturday’s game, the team announced after the 9-4 loss to Oakland.
The Twins will receive a player to be named later or cash in the transaction.
Correia, signed to a two-year, $10 million contract in December 2012, gave the Twins 314 innings for their money, posting a 4.49 ERA and a 14-26 record in 54 starts for the Twins. His 13 quality starts this season were tied for the most on the Twins, despite a 5-13 record — he leads the majors in losses — and 4.94 ERA.
“It was a pleasure. He’s very professional, a guy that’s going to be missed out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He pitched very well for us. He did a nice job.”
For Correia, who turns 34 next month, it’s a chance to go back home to California. The San Diego native has pitched for the Giants and Padres, so he knows the NL West well. But he said he wasn’t looking to leave, though going to a first-place team is intriguing.
“It’s always tough leaving guys you’ve played with for a while, they’ve become good friends,” he said. “But it will be nice to go somewhere and play some important baseball games at the end of the year. It’s a place I’m familiar with, so it’s exciting.”
The move was made in order to add Milone to the rotation, joining Saturday’s starter Trevor May in a revamped fivesome. Milone, a 27-year-old lefthander, gave up only one run in his debut for AAA Rochester last week, and considering he has a career 3.84 ERA in 80 major league games, including a 6-3 record and 3.55 ERA this year for the Athletics, the Twins didn’t want to wait to add him.
Mauer nears return
Joe Mauer had another hit on Saturday, after three hits Friday night, and played another complete game for Class A Cedar Rapids, another indication that he is about ready to be activated from the disabled list. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer felt “general soreness” after Friday’s game, his first nine-inning game in the field since straining his oblique muscle on July 1, but has had no recurrence of the injury.
Might Mauer join the Twins in Houston for the second half of this road trip? “I’m sure it’s a possibility. Let’s see how he does [today],” Gardenhire said.
Mauer’s activation would mean a difficult decision for the Twins, who don’t have any obvious roster spots available. They could return Kennys Vargas to the minors, but that seems unlikely after the start he has had in his first week in the majors. Vargas is batting .310 entering Saturday’s game, and as Gardenhire pointed out, “He’s not facing rookies. He’s facing some pretty great pitchers.”
• The A’s honored longtime manager Tony La Russa, handing out bobbleheads to the crowd and having the new Hall of Fame member throw out the first pitch. Catching that pitch was the man who served as the A’s regular catcher for LaRussa’s entire 10-year career in Oakland: Twins coach Terry Steinbach.