MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins’ recent schedule has allowed the team to roll with a four-man rotation lately, but it’s likely they’ll add a fifth starter for Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
And it’s likely that the pitcher they add will be right-hander Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks began the season in the rotation but was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his first four starts. Since joining the Red Wings, however, Hendriks is 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA. In his last start Saturday, he went 8 2/3 innings and didn’t allow a run. He gave up just three hits and struck out 10.
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According to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, Hendriks did not allow a fly ball out in Saturday’s start. His recent strong performance likely helped spur a promotion back to the majors.
“We were just talking about possibilities. Hendriks threw the ball really well (Saturday) night,” Gardenhire said. “We like him. We know he can compete. We know he can do some things. Hopefully he’s regrouped enough and can help us if that’s the case.”
Gardenhire added that right-hander Jeff Manship is also an option for Saturday’s spot start. Manship was recently recalled from Triple-A but has pitched in the bullpen since his call-up. Manship has made six starts in his limited time with the Twins since 2009.
“We’ll get that figured out,” Gardenhire said of Saturday’s start. “We’ve got a day off tomorrow then probably regroup, come back Tuesday and start looking at it, when we need to get a bullpen session done and all those things or take Manship and prepare him. We could go either way.”
In his seven starts with Rochester, Hendriks has struck out 42 batters and walked 13 in 46 1/3 innings. He had just nine strikeouts and four walks in his four starts with the Twins.
“When he was up here, he was misfiring. You could see him. He was lost,” Gardenhire said of Hendriks. “The last outing that he had up here, he was screaming at himself in the dugout. He needed to take it easy here, go down and get some confidence. Right now it sounds like he’s got it. We’ll see. We’ll make a decision next week, see what we want to do here.”
Thome returns to Minnesota: Former Minnesota slugger Jim Thome will return this week to Target Field, the site of some of his most memorable home runs in recent years. Thome and his Philadelphia Phillies will begin a three-game series Tuesday against the Twins, for whom Thome hit 37 home runs in two seasons.
“He’s excited to come back,” Gardenhire said of Thome, who hit his 600th career home run last season. “He looks forward to his time here in Minnesota. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him out and not let him run around the bases.”
Thome spent the 2010 season and most of 2011 with the Twins before he was dealt to Cleveland just prior to the trade deadline. He returned to Target Field last year as a member of the Indians, and it was clear he was still loved by fans and his former teammates.
“I still keep in touch with him. I know he’s excited to come back to Minnesota,” said Twins catcher Joe Mauer. “He almost feels like he’s one of ours. Great guy. He isn’t going to take it easy on us, I know that. It’ll be fun to see him.”
Thome hit his first home run of the season on Saturday. Through Sunday, the 41-year-old Thome is batting .242 with four RBI in 17 games. He spent time on the disabled list this year with a lower back strain.
Twins ink 10 of 43 picks so far: Prior to Sunday’s game, the Twins had signed 10 of their 43 picks from the 2012 draft to contracts, including second-round pick Mason Melotakis and fourth-round pick Zack Jones, who were both at Target Field on Friday.
Other signed picks include: LHP Andre Martinez (6th round); LHP Taylor Rogers (11th round); RHP Alex Muren (12th round); OF Jake Proctor (14th round); 1B D.J. Hicks (17th round); OF Jonathan Murphy (19th round); IF Joel Licon (25th round); and 3B Bryan Haar (34th round).
Rosario is Minor League Player of the Week: Beloit second baseman Eddie Rosario was named the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Week for the week of June 2-8. The 20-year-old Puerto Rico native batted .450 with a home run, three doubles and three RBI in five games this week with the Snappers.
It’s Rosario’s second time earning the weekly honors, as he was also the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Week on July 1 of last season. Prior to Sunday, he was batting .397 with seven homers, 39 RBI and 20 doubles in 60 games with Low-A Beloit.