Lots of stuff happening today:
– The Twins and MLB are expected to announce that the 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field. You can watch it streaming live at 4 p.m. CT on MLB.com and Twinsbaseball.com.
– The Twins recalled Chris Parmelee from Triple-A Rochester and outrighted Jeff Gray to Triple-A. Parmelee is slated to start tonight in right field.
– Left-hander Scott Diamond dropped his appeal today and will begin serving his six-game suspension immediately.
– Joe Mauer was placed on waivers yesterday and ended up clearing waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. There’s virtually no chance he’ll be traded, though, as the Twins generally place every player on waivers during August. He also has a full no-trade clause.
– Center fielder Denard Span is not in the lineup for a second straight day, as he is dealing with soreness in his right collarbone. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam today.
– The rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced today. The seven players are pitchers Logan Darnell, Kyle Gibson, Caleb Thielbar and Michael Tonkin, catcher Chris Herrmann and outfielders Evan Bigley and Nate Roberts.
OAKLAND — The Twins recalled right-hander Liam Hendriks from Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, and he’s scheduled to start Wednesday against the A’s.
Hendriks is starting in place of right-hander Nick Blackburn, who was outrighted to Triple-A on Monday after struggling this season with a 7.39 ERA in 19 starts.
Hendriks has been impressive in Rochester, posting a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts. He’s also struck out 82 and walked 28 in 106 1/3 innings. His last start came Friday, when he allowed four runs on seven hits over seven innings.
Hendriks, though, has had trouble translating his Minor League success to the Majors, as evidenced by his career 6.71 ERA in 12 big league starts. He’s 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA in eight outings with the Twins this season.
OAKLAND — The Twins outrighted struggling right-hander Nick Blackburn to Triple-A Rochester, and will recall a starting pitcher on Tuesday — likely Liam Hendriks — to start on Wednesday against the A’s. In addition Minnesota also outrighted infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who will remain on the Rochester roster.
Blackburn was removed from the 40-man roster after having a rough time with the Twins, posting a 7.39 ERA in 19 outings. His last start came Friday, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.
He’ll be a starter in Rochester, and Twins assistant general Rob Antony said Blackburn will have to pitch well to be back up with the club again this season, as he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.
“I talked to Nick today, let him know and told him, ‘Go down there, try and get straightened out and when September comes we’ll evaluate the situation,’” Antony said. “There’s no guarantees he’ll come back. We could select him and bring him back if we want, or he could not be back this year — whatever we think is the right situation when the time comes.”
Blackburn is still owed $5.5 million next season, and will have to earn a spot with the club, according to Antony.
“As far as next year goes, he’s still a member of our organization,” Antony said. “I suspect, unless we trade him in the offseason, he’ll be back in spring training trying to win a job on the club.”
With Blackburn out, the Twins need a starter for Wednesday, and it’s expected to be Hendriks, who last pitched for Rochester on Friday. The 23-year-old right-hander has been impressive with the Red Wings with a 2.20 ERA in 16 starts but it hasn’t translated with the Twins, as evidenced by his career 6.71 ERA in 12 outings.
Nishioka, who is also owed $3 million next year, struggled in three games with the Twins this year, going 0-for-12 with two errors and several other misplays in the field.
“I’m sure it’s a pride thing for any player,” Antony said. “No. 1, it’s tough to be in the minor leagues; but No. 2, when you’re taken off the major league roster and 29 other clubs pass on you, it tells you you’re not doing very well.”
The team now has 38 players on its 40-man roster.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins shook up their middle infield after Tuesday’s 8-4 loss to the Tigers, as they optioned rookie shortstop Brian Dozier to Triple-A Rochester and selected the contract of infielder Pedro Florimon from Rochester.
Dozier, 25, hit .234/.271/.332 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 84 games since being recalled from Rochester on May 7. He also was tied for the lead among American League shortstops with 15 errors.
“He’s a kid who’s been up here, and he’s battled through this year,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “He’s had his good days, he’s had his tough days, and basically he just needs to go down and play every day. He’s got to work on his defense. There’ve been certain things that he needs to work on — cut-offs, positioning, that type of thing.
“But he also needs to be a little more consistent offensively. He’ll have some good games, but he gives away too many at-bats. He needs to be a little bit more consistent, and I think he’s taking too many defensive swings. It’s just an opportunity for him to go down, relax, get his confidence back, play every day, and work his way back up here.”
Dozier, the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Year last season, said he wasn’t exactly surprised by the move because he hasn’t been hitting like he did before his callup, as he’s a career .305/.379/.416 hitter in four seasons in the Minors.
“I’d have sent me down because I haven’t been playing the way I know how to play, and that I’m capable of doing,” Dozier said. “I know what I’m capable of, especially being up here for a few months now. I know my style of my game and everything, and I think it’ll be fine. Just get back down there and work hard and get a few things ironed out.”
Dozier’s last game came Sunday, when he threw to first base on a slow roller hit to him at shortstop with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning. Dozier played it safe on the play and got an out but it allowed the go-ahead run to score in an eventual 7-3 loss.
But Antony said the move had nothing to do with the play, as it was not based on his recent play but on his overall body of work.
“I think it was a lot longer process,” Antony said. “We really were trying to be patient because we know with a young player and a rookie, he’s going to have his ups and downs. But it just got to the point where we felt it was better for him rather than continue to battle through it up here to go down to Rochester to try to get his game in order.”
Florimon, meanwhile, is known more for his defense up the middle. The 25-year-old hit .251/.308/.354 in 82 games with Rochester.
“He’s done a terrific job defensively,” Antony said. “He’s hitting .251, so he’s not hitting a ton. But at the same time, he’s done a very, very good job defensively. He’s improved a lot offensively over the course of last year to this year.”
MINNEAPOLIS — Despite his struggles in his first three games of the season against the Indians, second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be in uniform on Friday against the Rays, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Thursday.
Nishioka had a series to forget, as he made three errors in the infield — while also letting a pop-up drop in front of him on Wednesday — while going 0-for-12 at the plate. He flew back to Rochester to get his things after Wednesday’s game but won’t be optioned to Triple-A Rochester before Friday.
With Trevor Plouffe still on the disabled list with a bruised right thumb, Ryan said that the Twins will stick with Nishioka for now.
“He had a very difficult game yesterday and we all saw it but the only way to find out how he’ll respond up here is to play him,” Ryan said. “It didn’t to go so well so now we’ll have a decision to make once Plouffe is healthy and ready to come off. So we’ll see how Plouffe responds in the next few days and go from there.”
Plouffe, on the disabled list retroactive to July 21 with a bruised right thumb, is set to take batting practice on Thursday and Friday. There’s a chance he could rejoin the Twins this weekend, but Ryan indicated Plouffe could go on a rehab assignment.
“He’ll swing the bat tomorrow and we’ll make the decision on whether he’ll need a rehab assignment tomorrow or not,” Ryan said. “I thinking he may he might have to go out but I don’t want to make that decision until we see him the next couple of days.”