Preview: Twins vs. Indians
MINNEAPOLIS — Nobody particularly enjoys having to go to work on their birthday, but it is doubtful that Shane Bieber will mind being at the office Thursday when he turns 23.
The Indians’ No. 3 prospect has made 10 starts at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season, posting a 5-1 record and 1.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts and only three walks in 65 1/3 innings.
He threw a seven-inning no-hitter in his last minor league start and a few days later, he learned he was being called up to the show.
“I got called in to look at some video of pitchers with changeups, just because we weren’t really pounding with our changeups,” Bieber told MLB.com. “At the end of the meeting, [Columbus manager Chris] Tremie walks over and says, ‘They didn’t tell you? Oh yeah, you’re starting in Minnesota on Thursday.’
“It was kind of cool, them blindsiding me,” Bieber said, smirking. “I was surprised, and it’s a fun little story to tell. Now that I’m telling the story I realize that all of the clips happened to be against the Twins.”
He’s already made an impression on Indians manager Terry Francona, who plans to use Bieber’s start to give his regular starters an extra day of rest.
“Every time someone talks about him they just rave about his routine, his work ethic, his strike-throwing ability,” Francona said of Bieber’s stuff. “But he’s not the finished product — his breaking ball is still a work in progress, but he fills in the strike zone, which is a good way to start.”
The Indians should have Francisco Lindor back in the lineup Thursday. Francona gave him a day off Wednesday against the White Sox after he started each of Cleveland’s first 53 games this season.
The workload wasn’t an issue for the shortstop, who is batting .300 this season, but Francona said he thought it was time for Lindor to take a break.
“I give the man credit, he takes a lot of pride,” Francona said. “I just thought the last few days — and he ended up getting a couple of hits — just looked a little tired. It didn’t look like his legs were under him as much as they needed to.”
Minnesota will be playing short-handed again after center fielder Byron Buxton went back on the disabled list Wednesday because of a fractured big toe that still hasn’t fully healed. He first suffered the injury April 23 while on rehab assignment from a bout of migraines.
Buxton returned May 10 but has gone 6-for-49 with two RBIs, two doubles and a stolen base.
“He’s been trying to play through something that’s been very problematic, in terms of mechanics, being able to swing properly and all those types of things,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s taken away some of his aggressiveness as a baserunner. If we’re going to get going in the right direction, he’s going to be part of it. We want to make sure we get him back on track.”
After losing six of their last seven, the Twins will try to get back on track behind right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.34).
He’s been the victim of some bad luck lately, posting a 2.63 ERA in five May starts but having only one victory to show for it.
Odorizzi took a no-decision his last time out, when he held the Mariners to three runs over 5 1/3 innings.
In five career starts against Cleveland, Odorizzi is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA.