MINNEAPOLIS — Pitcher Yohan Pino was in the Twins’ clubhouse prior to Monday’s game, but the right-hander has not yet been added to Minnesota’s 25-man roster.
Manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed Monday that the Twins do plan to recall the 30-year-old Pino before Tuesday’s game — which Pino is slated to start. A corresponding roster move will be announced either after Monday night’s game or before Tuesday’s game.
"We’re excited to have him back up here. The kid’s a competitor. He really competes hard out there," Gardenhire said. "He changes speeds. He does all those things. It’s nice to see him come back and get another start up here."
Pino made his major-league debut with the Twins last month after spending 10 seasons in the minor leagues. Tuesday will be his sixth career big-league start. In those six games, Pino was 1-2 with a 4.39 ERA. He picked up his first major-league win back on July 10 against Seattle and was then optioned to Triple-A Rochester the following day when Kris Johnson was called up.
Johnson, who started Monday, could be a possible candidate to head back to Rochester when the Twins officially recall Pino, but Gardenhire said the move won’t be announced just yet.
In 15 games with Rochester this year, Pino was 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA. His most recent outing since he was sent down to the minors was a rough one. He allowed five earned runs on three hits and seven walks in just five innings of work.
"Hopefully he’ll pitch well here tomorrow," Gardenhire said of Pino.
Trade talk unavoidable: With the Twins nine games below .500 before Monday’s series opener against Cleveland, it’s becoming more likely that Minnesota will be sellers by the July 31 trading deadline.
It’s not an unfamiliar position for the Twins, who lost 96 or more games in each of the last three seasons. Just last year Minnesota dealt first baseman Justin Morneau — a fan favorite — to Pittsburgh, and dealt infielder Jamey Carroll to Kansas City. In 2012, Francisco Liriano was traded to the White Sox before the non-waiver trade deadline.
Several names of Twins players have been mentioned as the deadline looms nearer, and Gardenhire knows his players will have a hard time avoiding hearing the rumors.
"We all know they’re talking about it. Everybody’s talking about it. If you go on TV, you watch all these shows, they’re talking about it," Gardenhire said. "All different names get thrown out. It’s the same way every year. You just have to kind of put it on the backburner. It’s easy for me to sit here and say, but it’s hard out there in the clubhouse. They all know what’s at stake. There’s a lot of players whose names are getting thrown out. Who knows who started them. You just have to live with it. It’s a part of the game."
When the Twins dealt Morneau to Pittsburgh last August, it meant Minnesota was losing one of its cornerstone players. Yet Ryan believed it was in Morneau’s best interest to get him back onto a playoff contender.
"That didn’t go over well here, I can tell you that," Ryan said. "But I still think it was the right thing to do now because it just got him into a spot that the Pirates were competitive and he was going to become a free agent. It just made a lot of sense to put him in a good spot."
Mauer progressing from injury: Minnesota first baseman Joe Mauer hasn’t played since injuring his oblique on July 1, and Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Monday that the team does not have a timetable for Mauer’s return.
Mauer did field ground balls and made throws to second base on Monday, Gardenhire said, but Mauer has yet to take live batting practice. Until that milestone, Ryan said the Twins won’t have a good grasp on when Mauer may return to action.
"For me, until he starts taking live BP, there’s no sense in worrying too much ahead until we get that," Ryan said. "He’s not into that mode yet. But it was good to see him out there. He’s throwing, which is good. He’s fielding, which is good."