CLEVELAND — The contending Twins caught a tough break on Tuesday, as their scheduled game against the Indians was postponed due to rain and they’ll play a traditional doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 3:10 p.m. CT.
The Twins, who entered Tuesday 1.5 games back of the Astros for the second American League Wild Card spot, will start right-hander Kyle Gibson in Game 1 and right-hander Mike Pelfrey in Game 2. The Indians will counter with right-hander Carlos Carrasco in the first game and right-hander Cody Anderson in the second game.
“It’s hard to win one game, you know,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I’m sure there are statistics that support various theories about doubleheaders on the road. But you can’t worry about those things tomorrow. You have to look at it as two opportunities to win.”
With Gibson starting on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, it also affects Minnesota’s starter on the last day of the regular season on Sunday against the Royals. Gibson was slated to start that outing, but now would have to start on short rest. Saturday’s starter is also to be determined, but the Twins could look to start left-hander Tommy Milone and right-hander Phil Hughes in some order on Saturday and Sunday. Milone gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Monday’s 4-2 win, while Hughes was scratched with flu-like symptoms but felt better on Tuesday.
Right-hander Tyler Duffey remains on track to start the series finale on Thursday, while Ervin Santana will start the series opener against the Royals on Friday.
“The obvious questions will be how it plays into the weekend if games stay meaningful, which I hope they do,” Molitor said. “It just kinda changes how things shape up as we get to Sunday. We’ll have options. Right now, we’ll have those guys tomorrow, Duff on Thursday and Ervin on Friday. And then we’ll have to figure out what to do Saturday and Sunday.”
Pelfrey, who will be starting on regular rest, said despite the potential postseason ramifications of his outing, he’s going to look at it as any other start.
“I try not to make it any more and take it like any other game,” Pelfrey said. “Obviously, it’s a big game but I try to approach like any other game. Nothing changes. You have to execute and try to get guys out. It’s just a matter of doing it and being focused, which I think when it means this much, you’re pretty into it. So it’ll be pretty fun.”
But Pelfrey admitted it’s not the best timing to have a doubleheader this late in the season with the Twins trying to make the postseason for the first time since 2010. They also played in a doubleheader against the Angels on Sept. 19 and lost both games. The Angels entered Tuesday one game ahead of the Twins.
“It’s probably not ideal,” Pelfrey said. “We talked about Gibby coming back the last day and that probably takes that away with short rest. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Tommy came up and stepped up last night, so somebody else will have to step up. I think guys will be ready to do that.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano is dealing with a mild right hamstring strain and was held out of the starting lineup on Friday against the Astros.
Sano, who has been the club’s best hitter since being called up on July 2, was originally slated to start at third base but told the training staff his hamstring has been bothering him so Molitor kept him out of the lineup as a precautionary move.
“I think it’s been a gradual thing as far as I know,” Molitor said. “I haven’t heard anything specific other than that I had him in there originally playing third base today but he came in and talked a little bit about his concerns about it and what he could and couldn’t do.”
Molitor added that Sano believes he can play through the injury, but it wasn’t worth the chance of him suffering further injury. Eduardo Nunez started at third in his place.
“I just imagine him trying to extend himself out there and having to shut him down for a large portion of the remainder of the season,” Molitor said. “The risk is too high. He wants to play and thinks he can play through it in the DH role but I think with the late flight last night and three days of playing on turf, the risk seems pretty high to me.”
But Molitor said he’s hopeful Sano could rejoin the lineup as early as Saturday if everything progresses. Sano also missed two games in mid-July with a mild ankle sprain suffered when he stepped on a baseball during batting practice.
“I hope it’s day to day,” Molitor said. “After going through treatment today they said it loosened up pretty well. We all know what he’s done and what he means to the team. So to not see his name in there it’s a different feel because that’s the kind of presence he’s brought in here. But hopefully he responds and gets back to the DH role as soon as tomorrow.”
Sano, 22, is hitting .289/.394/.584 with 12 homers, 13 doubles and 38 RBIs in 47 games.
Twins closer Glen Perkins, who has been out with lower back spasms since Sunday, is expected to be available to pitch on Friday, Molitor said. But Perkins won’t return to his role as closer until he proves he’s healthy.
Center fielder Aaron Hicks, on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 19 with a left hamstring strain, is expected to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Saturday, Molitor said. Hicks has been running without any issues at Target Field, and is expected to be activated once he’s eligible on Thursday if everything goes to plan.
MINNEAPOLIS — After week that saw him crush two-walk homers while being an Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote candidate, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is headed to the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati, after all.
Dozier, who finished second to Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas in the Final Vote, was added to the American League roster to replace Toronto’s Jose Bautista. It’s the first All-Star selection for Dozier, who is the first Twins second baseman to be named an All-Star since Chuck Knoblauch in 1997. It also gives Minnesota two All-Stars, as closer Glen Perkins was named to the AL team for the third straight year on Monday.
Dozier had a big week after finding out he wasn’t initially named an All-Star, as he hit walk-off homers against the Orioles on Monday and against the Tigers on Friday, and a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning vs. Baltimore on Wednesday. He became the first Twins player with two walk-off homers in one week since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961.
Dozier has been Minnesota’s first-half MVP this season, entering Saturday hitting .259/.331/.521 with a team-leading 19 homers and 49 RBIs. He also leads the American League with 48 extra-base hits and 66 runs scored. The 48 extra-base hits before the All-Star break is a franchise record.
Dozier was initially left off the roster with Houston’s Jose Altuve voted in as a starter and Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis being named a backup. But Dozier has been the best second baseman in the Majors dating back to last year, according to Wins Above Replacement. Dozier has an 8.1 WAR to lead Altuve’s 7.1 WAR over that span, per Fangraphs.com.
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans’ collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX’s participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
ARLINGTON — The wait is over.
Byron Buxton, the No. 1 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will have his contract purchased by the Twins from Double-A Chattanooga before Sunday’s game against the Rangers. The Twins will announce a corresponding roster move on Sunday.
Buxton, 21, was hitting .283/.351/.489 with six homers, seven doubles, 12 triples and 37 RBIs in 59 games at Double-A. He also stole 20 bases in 22 attempts. The center fielder had been on fire recently with a 10-game hitting streak, batting .421/.489/.500 with a double and a triple.
Buxton has stayed healthy this year after missing most of last season with a variety of ailments, including a left sprained wrist, a concussion and a dislocated left finger. He played in just 31 games last season, hitting .234/.307/.395, including just one game at Double-A, as he suffered his concussion in an outfield collision in his first career Double-A game. He also hit .263/.311/.298 in 13 games in the Arizona Fall League before dislocating his finger, which required surgery.
Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft after the Astros selected Carlos Correa, is a career .296/.380/.486 hitter in the Minors with 205 runs, 150 RBIs and 92 stolen bases in 263 games.
The Twins are looking for a spark after struggling so far in June after a strong showing in May. Center fielder Aaron Hicks is sidelined with a sore right elbow that could see him placed on the 15-day disabled list, while Torii Hunter is suspended for Sunday’s game after dropping his appeal of his two-game suspension on Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins placed outfielder Oswaldo Arcia on the 15-day disabled list with a right hip flexor strain on Monday, and recalled fellow outfielder Eddie Rosario from Triple-A Rochester to take Arcia’s place on the roster.
Arcia left Sunday’s game in the fourth inning with what was described as right hip irritation, and the Twins were hopeful Arcia would just be day to day. But Arcia was placed on the DL, giving Rosario his first call-up to the Majors.
Rosario, ranked as Minnesota’s No. 9 prospect by MLB.com, was hitting .242/.280/.379 with three homers, a stolen base and 12 RBIs in 23 games at Triple-A. The former top prospect was suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse last season, and once he returned, he hit .237/.277/.396 in 79 games. But he fared much better in the Arizona Fall League, batting .330/.345/.410 in 24 games.
Rosario, 23, was picked over fellow outfielder Aaron Hicks, who was outperforming him at Triple-A Rochester. Hicks, 25, is batting .289/.375/.494 with two homers, five doubles and three triples in 21 games.
MINNEAPOLIS — Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, who left his start on Wednesday with a minor left hip flexor strain, threw a bullpen session with no issues on Friday and will make his next start on Monday against the A’s.
Hughes left his outing after just five innings, as he said he felt tightness in his hip and it worsened as the game went along. But Hughes was confident it was just a minor injury and after throwing his bullpen on Wednesday, he will make his next start as scheduled.
“He reported he’s ready to pitch on Monday,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “That’s obviously good news for us.”
The Twins will also activate right-hander Ricky Nolasco (right elbow inflammation) and left-handed reliever Brian Duensing (right intercostal strain) from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.
Nolasco will start against the White Sox, while Duensing will head to the bullpen and will likely replace fellow left-hander Caleb Thielbar, who is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Rochester. The roster move for Nolasco is less clear, but the Twins could look to option Michael Tonkin or Ryan Pressly back to Triple-A. Tonkin was called up Thursday with reliever Casey Fien going on the DL with a right shoulder strain, while Pressly was recalled Friday with reliever Tim Stauffer being placed on the DL with a right intercostal strain.
Nolasco threw 67 pitches in a rehab start with Class A Cedar Rapids on Sunday, and is expected to be limited to about 85 pitches on Saturday. But he’s said he’s excited to be back, as he made just one start this year before being placed on the DL.
“I’m just glad to be getting back to normal and to being on my five days,” Nolasco said. “I want to start building on that and start pitching deep into games.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A day after struggling with his command, walking four batters in two innings against the Rays, top pitching prospect Alex Meyer was optioned to Triple-A Rochester, the Twins announced Friday.
Meyer, ranked as the No. 30 overall prospect by MLB.com, made three Grapefruit League appearances, posting a 1.59 ERA, but walked seven batters in 5 2/3 innings and admitted on Friday that he’s suffering from issues with his mechanics. With Meyer going to Triple-A, it leaves Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey and Trevor May as the three remaining candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation.
“He’s behind quite a few guys so that was a piece,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “We want to make sure we get him consistent work so we’re going to send him over. Hopefully we can get him to settle it down. Yesterday, I was pleased to see him do some damage control because that could’ve got out of whack. It’s obvious he can strike people out but now it’s a matter of not getting into so much trouble.”
Meyer, 25, did show some positives against Tampa Bay after loading the bases, as he was able to get out of the jam after a sacrifice fly and a pair of strikeouts. Meyer has the stuff to be a frontline starter with a fastball that can reach 100 mph and a solid curveball to go along with a developing changeup, but has trouble harnessing it.
“I think we can fix that,” Ryan said. “His mechanics were speed up and he got into some trouble but he got out of the trouble like he can do. He has pitches he can use to get himself out of trouble.”
Meyer, who is one of the tallest pitchers in baseball at 6-foot-9, had a 3.52 ERA in 27 starts with Triple-A Rochester last year, and struck out 153 batters in 130 1/3 innings. But he also walked 64 batters, which led to 4.4 walks per nine innings, which would’ve been the second-worst mark in the Majors last year. So the Twins remain hopeful he can refine his command at Triple-A before making his highly anticipated big league debut.
“With those types of pitches, it’s hard to argue against him,” Ryan said. “But we all know there are guys where it takes a little more time than others and he’s one of them. Mechanically, he’s a big man with a lot of moving parts. I don’t want to harp on that too much, though, because he’s a pretty good athlete for his size.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins are among the last teams to report for Spring Training, as pitchers and catchers don’t report to the CenturyLink Sports Complex until Sunday.
Sunday also marks the grand opening of the renovated CenturyLink Sports Complex, which underwent a $48.5 million facelift. It’s essentially the completion of the second phase of the project, as several additions were also made last year such as the boardwalk in the outfield and the creation of a player development academy on the Spring Training site.
The second phase more than doubled the size of the concourses while adding new concessions, upgraded restroom facilities and a new retail store for fans. The suites, offices and pressbox at Hammond Stadium were also updated. And the player development academy, which was still under construction last spring, is now completed.
Look for a full story and video of all of the renovations on Sunday, but for now, here are some photos:
SAN DIEGO — The Twins got their man on the last day of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, as they agreed to sign right-hander Ervin Santana to a four-year, $54 million deal, according to a Major League source.
The Twins met with Santana’s representatives in San Diego on Wednesday, and pushed hard over the last 24 hours to sign the right-hander. Santana helps bolster a rotation that finished with the worst ERA in the Majors for a second straight season. Santana is set to make $13.5 million per season over the next four years, according to a source. It’s a similar deal to the Twins signing Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal with an option last offseason.
Santana, 31, went 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 31 starts with the Braves last year. He struck out 179, walked 63 and gave up 16 homers in 196 innings.
It marked the fifth straight year Santana made at least 30 starts, but Santana missed reaching the 200-inning mark for just the second time over his last five seasons. He has a career 4.17 ERA with 1,507 strikeouts in 1,882 2/3 innings with the Angels, Royals and Braves.
The interest in Santana is nothing new for the Twins, who offered the right-hander a three-year, $33 million deal last offseason. But Santana ultimately spurned the Twins, opting to sign with the Braves on a one-year, $14.1 million deal to re-establish his value on the market.
MINNEAPOLIS — Torii Hunter is coming home.
The 39-year-old outfielder has agreed to a one-year, $10.5-million contract with the Twins, two Major League sources confirmed Tuesday night. The Twins, however, haven’t confirmed and haven’t made an official announcement, as the deal is still pending a physical.
Hunter played the first 11 years of his career with the Twins, who drafted him in the first round in the 1993 First-Year Player Draft. He won seven Gold Glove Awards and made two All-Star appearances in his first stint with the club. He hit .271/.324/.469 with 192 homers, 259 doubles and 126 stolen bases in 1,234 career games with the Twins.
Hunter left Minnesota in 2008 to sign with the Angels before playing the last two seasons with the Tigers in chase of his first World Series title. He’s five-time All-Star who won nine straight Gold Glove Awards from 2001-09 and won Silver Slugger Awards in ’09 and ‘13.
Hunter hit .286/.319/.446 with 17 home runs last season and is a .279/.334/.446 career hitter in 18 Major League seasons.
Hunter will start in right field for the Twins in 2015, as Oswaldo Arcia will move over from right field to left field. Hunter moved off center field to right field during the 2010 season while with the Angels.
Hunter will bring the Twins much-needed power from the right side after the departure of Josh Willingham, but will also serve as a clubhouse leader and mentor to the club’s younger players. Hunter is known as one of the best clubhouse presences in baseball and is very familiar with new manager Paul Molitor.
Hunter was a teammate of new Twins manager Paul Molitor in ’97 and ’98, although Hunter only played in a combined eight games those two years. But Molitor was also around Hunter while serving as Minnesota’s bench coach in 2000 and ’01. Hunter was also a teammate of new Twins bullpen coach Eddie Guardado from 1997-2003 and both represented the Twins as All-Stars in ’02.
The Twins had been in contact with Torii Hunter’s agent, Larry Reynolds, since early this offseason, but the question was whether Hunter wanted to play for a club that has lost at least 92 games in each of the last four seasons. But Hunter chose the Twins over the Rangers, as Minnesota outbid Texas for Hunter, according to a report from Foxsports.com.