Jake Cave’s weekend included playing baseball in 40-mph winds and 40-degree temperatures on Friday in Rochester, N.Y., being idled by a snowstorm that prevented another game Saturday, and catching a sunrise flight to Detroit in order to connect to the Twin Cities in time for Sunday’s Twins game.
“I got to take a nice little trip,” Cave said good-naturedly, and that last stop is the reason he can joke, instead of complain, about it: He is back in the big leagues. “It’s been a crazy couple of days, but whatever. I’m just glad to be here.”
Cave was exiled to Class AAA Rochester on Tuesday night, one day from the end of the Twins’ road trip, and had to deal with suddenly moving to upstate New York on short notice. When Willians Astudillo strained his hamstring while scoring on a sacrifice fly Saturday, the move was off.
“I got a call from [Twins minor league director] Jeremy Zoll yesterday after our game was snowed out,” Cave said, and his spirits were quickly lifted by the message: Come back. We need you.
Astudillo was put on the 10-day injured list Sunday, and Cave’s demotion was canceled, the normal 10-day waiting period wiped out when injuries make it necessary. “When you have injuries, you go, ‘[Cave] is a guy we want out here playing for us in the big leagues,’ ” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
“Playing” might not be the right word, exactly, because Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are all healthy. Cave lost his roster spot when the Twins decided to expand the bullpen to eight pitchers, but it was also true, Baldelli said, that Cave wasn’t getting many at-bats. That doesn’t necessarily figure to change.
“Ideally, he would be getting at-bats, whether it’s here or in Rochester,” Baldelli said. “That’s the plan, to try to get him into the swing of things and playing regularly. We’re going to look for opportunities to get him in there.”
Cave has appeared in just 12 games and is hitting only .233 in 30 at-bats. “I want to play, obviously, but I know it’s tough” with this outfield, Cave said. “But being on a big league roster, it’s my dream.”
Changeup is on
Kyle Gibson’s bullpen session before his April 21 start in Baltimore had only one goal, the righthander said: Disguise his changeup.
“It was just fastball-changeup” the entire session, Gibson said, because the changeup is designed to make hitters believe a fastball is coming, thus throwing off their timing. “I’m trying to keep the delivery the same, keep the arm speed the same. I’ve been working on it a lot.”
Seems to be paying off. Gibson got four swing-and-misses on changeups last Sunday in Baltimore, on 15 pitches, and four more in the rematch at Target Field, this time on 17 pitches. That’s as many hitters fooled by the pitch as he had had in his other three stars combined, and a significant increase in his usage of the offspeed pitch.
“The last two outings, my changeup has been the game-changer for me,” Gibson said. “I couldn’t really find it in the first three starts, and it was still a little spotty, but toward the end of the game I found a mechanical adjustment that helped me stay on the ball a little longer and keep it in the zone.”
It showed. For the second straight start, Gibson didn’t walk a batter, an occurrence so rare for him that he asked the Twins staff to find out the last time it happened. The answer: It’s happened only once before, in three consecutive starts May 23-June 2, 2014.