Wednesday Notes: More Cuts, Pinto Power And Lineup Changes
Twins Option Caleb Thielbar To AAA
The Twins announced on Wednesday morning that left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar has been optioned to Rochester. The 28-year-old Randolph, MN native had pitched in 103 games for the Twins over the past two seasons, amassing a 5-3 record, 2.59 ERA and a 74/30 K/BB ratio over 93.2 innings.
READ: Which Righty Relievers Can Get Lefties Out?
Thielbar’s spring was spotty, as he allowed 19 hits over 11 innings which led to seven earned runs. Was the March performance the reason he was optioned?
"There were other people performing," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said before Wednesday's game against the Red Sox. "Some different people that came in. There are other people still here who haven't performed quite as well as he did."
A day after optioning left-hander Aaron Thompson to Rochester, the Twins continue to purge southpaws from the bullpen, leaving Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins as the left-handed arms. Yesterday, Ryan said that Thompson’s camp was decent and that he along with pitchers like Thielbar could be back in Minnesota quickly.
“He threw OK. He came up last September and did OK. We tried to encourage him to keep his head up, it was a disappointing day for him. It should be. But I can see him surfacing with us. He’s left-handed,” said Ryan. “He’ll be down in AAA just a phone call away with a few others down there.”
For now, the Twins have their pitching staff that they will begin the season with but Ryan acknowledged that things do change.
"You could always adjust whether it is this week or its in the middle of April or as you go through the spring or summer. Right now, this is the way we are headed."
Will The Twins Bring The Heat?
When asked if hard-throwers like Jake Reed and Nick Burdi will be ready this year, Ryan left that answer up to the players.
"That's up to them," Ryan said of the pair of relievers who combined to strike out 77 in 51.1 innings in 2015. "We got people who are farther ahead than those two guys. Those two guys haven't even had a year of pro ball."
Josmil Pinto Happy With Performance
On Tuesday, catcher Josmil Pinto played five innings of a minor league game at the Twins’ complex. After his first game back where his swing was described as “late” by Terry Ryan, Pinto had a better time of it, finishing the day 1-for-3 with an impressive home run. When asked if he got all of it, Pinto smiled and said “Oh yes.”
The Twins are still concerned over his ability to be ready for opening day in Detroit.
“He started out with that hamstring and he was doing fine after that,” Ryan said. “Now’s he’s gotten into those concussion symptoms. So he had to sit nine days for that. So it’s been a little bit of an inconsistent, sketchy look. Not that we don’t know him, we do. So we’ll see how he feels after today and we’ll make a decision after tomorrow.”
Pinto will play four of five innings in Wednesday's minor league game but will not catch.
Pitcher Kyle Gibson said he felt significantly better after battling a stomach bug that caused him to miss his last start against Boston. The Twins said he will maintain his current schedule and pitch again on Saturday.
While Gibson was recovering, the Twins had to make a quick lineup change before Wednesday’s game. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was slated to play against the Red Sox but was replaced with Eduardo Escobar in left field as Arcia was reportedly ill.
Escobar has hit safely in 12 of 16 games this spring and launched his fourth home run of the spring off of Yankees’ starter Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday. There’s no question that Escobar has had a great spring and Ryan knows his offense will have him playing on a consistent basis in the regular season.
“We value his contributions here highly and I know Paul [Molitor] is very interested in make sure he gets his due in terms of at-bats.”
The swirling sickness in the clubhouse which crippled numerous players and manager Paul Molitor raised questions regarding the cleanliness of the facilities. Ryan was quick to dispel any notion that the sanitation of the clubhouse played any role in the sickness.
“We’re very sensitive about locker room cleanliness and issues that would come about in the locker room. And we do that and we’re very protective of that locker room. Unfortunately we have had a lot of guys who have had flu symptoms this spring. I’m not so sure it is out of the ordinary.”
Minor League Coach Riccardo Ingram Passes
Long-time minor league coach Riccardo Ingram, 48, passed away in Atlanta, Georgia after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.
The News-Press’s David Dorsey wrote an article this week detailing how Ingram would be renewing his battle with cancer which first sidelined him from the game for 12 months from July 2009 to 2010. After coaching and managing at various levels in the organization, Ingram spent the last three seasons as a hitting instructor in Triple-A and Double-A.
"It'd be very difficult for me to find a person who didn't have good things to say about Ingram," Ryan said of the news. "He's one of those guys who has a lot of charisma. He can tell a story."
Ingram leaves behind his wife, Allison, and daughters, Kacey and Kristen.