The Twins welcomed a handful of September call-ups into the clubhouse Tuesday, but most of the talk centered on one prospect who was not promoted.
Starting pitcher Jose Berrios remains at Class AAA Rochester, but the Twins have not ruled out calling him up. Getting clarity on the issue was tough, as General Manager Terry Ryan walked the fine line between being guarded and evasive.
When asked if Berrios was being considered for a promotion, Ryan said: “That will be up to discussion.”
When asked if his lack of bullpen experience is a factor, Ryan said: “If a guy has never done it before, you’d have some concerns. You don’t know how he would respond.”
When asked what his concerns about Berrios are, Ryan said, “None.”
Berrios is 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 11 starts for Rochester since being promoted from Class AA Chattanooga and is the Twins’ top pitching prospect. Berrios has thrown 161⅓ innings this season after throwing 139⅔ last season. Some teams avoid adding more than 20 percent to a prospect’s workload from year to year. So 20 percent on top of 140 innings would be a cap of 168 innings.
The only way Berrios could help is out of the bullpen, if the Twins follow that rule. Of Berrios’ 81 minor league appearances, 74 have come as a starter. He hasn’t relieved since rookie ball in 2012.
Berrios also would have to be placed on the 40-man roster, forcing the Twins to move someone off. And Berrios doesn’t have to be placed on the 40-man this offseason. They can use that spot for someone such as outfielder Adam Brett Walker or pitcher J.T. Chargois — instead of possibly losing them in the Rule 5 draft — and put Berrios on if he makes the team out of spring training.
“They have other considerations to worry about, besides if you’re going to find a way that he can be effective here,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “If you’re going to ask him to come here and potentially pitch him out of the bullpen, it’s not something he’s really done. You can’t assume that is going to be a smooth transition, that it’s going to be a slam dunk for him to come help us.”
The Twins are still discussing their options.
“Hopefully, he’s a big part of our future,” Molitor said. “Now we have to figure out if somehow, someway there’s something there that might be worthwhile to try to think about bringing him here.”
Meanwhile, infielder Danny Santana, designated hitter Kennys Vargas, catcher Eric Fryer and pitchers Michael Tonkin and A.J. Achter joined the team Tuesday from Rochester to provide some depth as the Twins push for a wild-card spot.
Torii Hunter spent Tuesday handing out T-shirts with the phrase #Septober Baseball across the front.
It’s something Hunter came up with during his time with Detroit, a way to remind the team what’s at stake this month.
“We’re playing for October in September,” said Hunter, who had the phrase trademark protected. “It’s Septober baseball and you have a chance. You got a chance. Not saying you’re in it, but you have a chance.”
Chattanooga righthander Adrian Salcedo has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and has been handed a 100-game suspension by the league. Why 100 games? It’s his second suspension of the season.
In April, Salcedo tested positive for Tamoxifen, a performance-enhancing substance, and Heptaminol, a stimulant. He served a 80-game suspension and returned to Chattanooga on Aug. 1. He pitched in five games before moving to Class AAA Rochester for two appearances.
Now he’s tested positive for Heptaminol again. Salcedo, 24, was a nonroster invite to spring training this year.
Pitchers Nick Burdi, Trevor Hildenberger, Jake Reed and Taylor Rogers, catchers Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver and outfielder Adam Brett Walker have assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. The AFL is an offseason league made up of prospects from across the league. Games start Oct. 13, with the championship game scheduled for Nov. 21. Class AA Chattanooga hitting coach Chad Allen will fill the same role for the Scorpions.