CHICAGO – There are six advertising signs across the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. One happens to be on the door to the visitor’s bullpen. It’s for a toilet company.
But Twins pitchers don’t feel that they are warming up in a water closet.
What they are warming up in this weekend is baseball’s only totally enclosed bullpen, located under the right field bleachers. There are seven televisions to keep them informed of what is going on in the game. And they can see the action on the field through the sign, although it is distorted some.
The bullpens were moved from down the foul lines last year as part of Wrigley Field’s $575 million renovation.
The consensus among Twins relievers was that the area was stuffy and they felt a little disconnected from the action. But given the fact that the heat index was over 100 on Friday and Saturday, they were happy to be indoors.
“I can only imagine how hot it would be if the bullpens were still on the field,” Ryan Pressly said.
Despite being out of the heat, the antiseptic atmosphere was too much for many of the Twins relievers.
“I didn’t really like it in there the whole time,” Matt Belisle said.
Many relievers have come out between innings and stood on the warning track. That enabled them to get away from feeling like they were locked in a room.
“And feel like we are at a baseball game,” Addison Reed said, “rather than sitting in a garage or watching the game at a bar.”
And a few relievers also mentioned that it was strange to warm up without being heckled by fans.
They actually like that?
“Yeah,” Zach Duke said. “It lets you know that you’re about to go into something that people care about.”
Just as advertised
Willians Astudillo was pressed into action in the fifth inning Saturday when the extreme heat forced Eddie Rosario out of the game. Astudillo took over in left field and came to bat in the sixth inning with a runner on second.
And on the first pitch from former Twins lefthander Brian Duensing, Astudillo smacked an RBI single to center. Astudillo does not walk or strike out much, and he showed that in his first big-league plate appearance.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play, make good contact and I just hit the first pitch,” he said.
Astudillo, who has played mostly catcher, third base and first base in the minors, borrowed Rosario’s glove to play the outfield — making two putouts — and had to use it in center field in the eighth when Max Kepler left because of heat illness as well. Astudillo said it was the first time he has played center since winter ball three or four years ago.
So which was better, the hit or playing center?
“Both were exciting,” he said. “There’s nothing else I can say about that. It is fun to be here.”
The other Rosario
The Twins needed to clear space on their 40-man roster during the offseason to make room for players they wanted to avoid losing in the Rule 5 draft. They designated lefthander Randy Rosario for assignment, and the Cubs claimed him off waivers on Nov. 3.
Rosario, who was called up from Class AA Chattanooga to pitch two games for the Twins last year, is now considered to have a bright future with the Cubs. The 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic pitched a scoreless inning Friday to lower his ERA to 1.80 through 17 appearances. Rosario could be the one that got away.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Rosario can be an excellent reliever with more consistent command, adding: “I love his stuff. I like him a lot, too. Very calm. A calm guy. High ceiling for this young man.”