BOSTON – After three one-inning demonstrations that he can pitch again, the Twins have asked Phil Hughes to give two innings a try. Assuming that goes well, the righthander should be back in a Twins uniform — and ready to assume a new role as a reliever — by the weekend.
Hughes, who hasn’t pitched in the majors in five weeks because of a recurrence of symptoms of the thoracic outlet syndrome he had surgically corrected a year ago, will throw 35-40 pitches for Class AAA Rochester on Wednesday, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “And then we’ll see about getting him back in the mix, maybe sometime this weekend,” Molitor added.
Hughes pitched back-to-back games for the Red Wings over the weekend with no physical problems, Molitor said, and with the exception of a solo home run to Yankees outfield prospect Nick Williams on Sunday, no pitching problems, either.
“He’s feeling good,” said Molitor, who spoke to Hughes after his Sunday outing. “His velocity, he was hoping it would be a little higher coming out of the pen, but he’s in the 89-92 [mph] range, which is fine.”
Hughes has made 53 relief appearances in his 10-year career, but 44 of them came in 2009. He’s had only four relief outings in the past six seasons, so it’s a major change, but one the Twins have decided is a better fit for the rehabbing Hughes, at least for now.
Last call for votes
The race is tightening just three days before the polls close, but Miguel Sano refuses to stump for last-minute votes.
“My family, my friends, they all say they’re voting for me,” Sano said Monday. “I’m not asking them to. They’re excited.”
Sano’s lead over Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez has tightened to a little more than 200,000 votes, with online voting scheduled to end at 11 p.m. Thursday. That’s about half of his 400,000-vote lead on June 20, and Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas are creeping up from behind, too.
Sano has had 1,550,240 votes. Final results will be announced Sunday night, and while he’s downplaying the anticipation, Sano admits that “I’d be really happy” to be picked for the July 11 game in Miami. “Everybody wants to go to the All-Stars,” he said. “It’s not easy to get there.”
• With Hector Santiago to be activated from the disabled list for his start Tuesday, the Twins returned righthander Dillon Gee to Class AAA Rochester without him ever making his Twins debut. Gee was signed to a minor league deal last week, but the Twins quickly called him up as a just-in-case reliever. “He needs to go pitch,” Molitor said of Gee, an eight-year veteran who hasn’t appeared in a game since June 14. “We’ll get him stretched out and see how he fits.”
• Twins first-round pick Royce Lewis smacked a long home run in his first at-bat as a minor leaguer on Monday, helping the Gulf Coast League Twins to a 5-2 victory over the GCL Orioles in Fort Myers, Fla. Lewis, a shortstop taken with the first overall pick, also singled in his 2-for-4 debut.
• Glen Perkins could resume throwing in Fort Myers, Fla., “as early as [Tuesday],” Molitor said. “It’s been about a week since he had a little bit of a setback” in his recovery from shoulder surgery a year ago.
• Infielder Ehire Adrianza showed significant improvement after undergoing a series of tests to determine the cause of his abdominal pain, Molitor said. “Things haven’t totally been put behind him, as far as some symptoms, but he feels good,” Molitor said.