The joke told to Zack Granite on Saturday was that he spent so much time in the batter’s box that he had to feel like a veteran.
“I got to swing a couple times, so that was kinda cool,” Granite said. “Especially after not seeing the first couple of pitches. I felt like he was throwing 112.”
Granite, called up after Friday’s game, made his major league debut in the eighth inning Saturday when he battled Baltimore righthander Michael Givens in an 11-pitch encounter that ended with Granite flying out to left.
Givens throws fastballs in the middle- to upper-90s velocity range, but the lefthanded-hitting Granite was able to foul off a few pitches to keep the at bat alive, and the crowd into it until he flied out. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he left the field.
“You battle against a guy throwing 98 miles an hour, it was a really good at-bat,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, who might have Granite in the starting lineup Sunday.
Granite comes from Class AAA Rochester, where he was batting .360 and is one of the surprise stories in the minors this season. Not considered a top Twins prospect, Granite hit .470 in June and opened eyes. He was supposed to play in the Class AAA All-Star Game, but was upgraded.
And what an upgrade it was. Granite was in the batting cages at Rochester before a game against Syracuse on Friday when Red Wings manager Mike Quade walked in.
“Lineup change!” he said.
Then he pointed at Granite and said, “Adios.” And his teammates erupted in cheers.
“Honestly, I don’t even remember it,” Granite said. “I just kinda blacked out.”
Granite landed in the Twin Cities at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday and was one of the first ones in the clubhouse later in the day. He wanted to report to Molitor, but No. 4 wasn’t even at the park yet.
That left Granite in a mostly empty room to savor his first moments as a major leaguer. “So I was just standing here, admiring the clubhouse,” he said. “It was cool.”
When the Twins inquired about free agent Bartolo Colon, they asked Ervin Santana to help with the inquiry. So Santana called up his former Angels teammate.
“I asked him if he wanted to come to the American League because the Minnesota Twins are interested in him,” Santana said. “He had to talk to his agent. I said talk to him and let me know. He called me [Friday] morning and told me he is going to join us.”
Colon, 44, was released by the Braves on July 4 after going 2-8 with a 8.14 ERA. But the Twins feel he can help stabilize the back of their rotation. He would be the 28th pitcher used — and the 11th starter — once he takes the ball for the Twins. And Santana believes young pitchers can learn a lot from Colon.
Colon’s success is simple. He rarely throws anything other than a four-seam (straight) or two-seam (sinking) fastball.
“I remember one day his elbow was sore and swollen but he had to pitch against Seattle,” Santana said. “He threw 90-something pitches, a complete game, just fastballs.”
That game was on July 5, 2006, at Seattle. Colon had shoulder issues later that month and missed the last two months of that season.
Colon signed a minor league contract Friday and is expected to make a start for Class AAA Rochester before joining the Twins on July 18 for a game against the Yankees.
Santana will get an extra day off after appearing in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. Jose Berrios will start Friday at Houston, followed by Santana and Kyle Gibson. Adalberto Mejia will start on July 17 when the Twins face the Yankees at Target Field, with Colon expected to follow.