It was a crazy day in the clubhouse. Eduardo Escobar did not speak to the media, but he did not appear to walk with a limp while leaving the player’s locker room and walking past the batting cages.
“It’s tough the first day. He did come and get treatment, went on the field and did some things. We’re talking to trainers about how that went and what they’re guesstimation would be about a potential return,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“We’re kinda in limbo right here.”
To clarify the timeframe here, Molitor spoke before the Twins announced that Kevin Jepsen was designated for assignment and Eddie Rosario was activated after being recalled from Triple-A Rochester.
Before Sunday’s game, at around 12:30 pm central, general manager Terry Ryan said that Escobar was day-to-day, and that the team was not considering a disabled list stint for him. That means that there will be a corresponding move in order to activate Trevor May.
Between speaking to Molitor and Ryan, we spoke with each player — May, Kevin Jepsen and Eddie Rosario — about their status with the team.
May was at his locker today after finishing his rehab stint in Triple-A. He has not been activated, but just pitched back-to-back games in Rochester.
“He’s healthy, and he’s throwing the ball hard, command’s gotten better with each outing,” said Molitor.
“I’m trying to decide if we want to … when the right time to get him activated would be, given the fact that back-to-back days, it’s obviously not gonna be today.”
The lineup was posted shortly after Molitor’s media accessibility. (It changed right before the game, ironically, but you either know that by now or don’t care. Point is: It was that kind of day.)
Asked how confident he was that May’s back troubles were behind him, Molitor said that he was cautiously optimistic.
“I mean, he’s addressed some things, he’s been feeling good for a while,” said Molitor. “Even after we DL’d him, it was a little big precautionary because of the recurring theme of it, and he got back on track rather quickly and was kinda anxious to get out throwing the games, which he was able to do here over the past week.
“There’s been no signs of that being a lingering issue, for now, at least.”
Molitor said that is is not awkward having May in the clubhouse, even though it means that another player could be traded or sent down in order to make room for him.
“No. No,” he said. “It was kinda the plan to get him back here after his three outings. We’ll see where we’ll go.
“We could always decide to keep him down there longer if we thought that was the right thing. But he’s back.”
May concurred with Molitor. He also offered specifics on his injury and what he’s doing with his mechanics in order to avoid injury in the future in the video below:
“They worked on a lot of video with him. It looked like some of it was his stride, so he feels pretty good about himself right now, and he threw the ball well down there,” said Ryan.
“We’ll get him active here in the next short amount of time.”
Although Jepsen has struggled this season, the decision to designate him for assignment comes as a bit of a surprise — or at least wasn’t a no-brainer.
He had a 1.61 ERA in 28.0 innings pitched last year (258 ERA+). The Twins also gave up two prospects to get the 31 year old reliever:
“That was the right trade to make. I mean, he saved us last year,” said Ryan, referring to Jepsen stepping into the closer role when Glen Perkins went down with injury in the second half of their 83-win campaign last season.
“It didn’t work out too well this year, but last year he did everything and then some to save our season, frankly. That’s the one piece that I acknowledged to Kevin, it made it very difficult to designate him because of what he did for us last year.”
Jepsen was calm and collected at his locker this morning, and appeared to understand the situation. He’s a reliever in his early 30’s, and the Twins are a losing team with plenty of 20-somethings that they need to get a look at.
The hardest thing for him, it seemed, is that his stuff is there and he is feeling healthy.
“Sometimes a change of scenery [is good] for a guy like him especially — clean slate, his health’s good, he’s throwing the ball hard,” said Ryan. “There’s nothing wrong with his stuff, everybody’s talked about that, it’s just location.”
Jepsen acknowledged that he’s kind of a “second half player,” and at the very least performed well once he arrived from Tampa Bay last year.
“I think he’ll probably land on his feet. I’m guessing at some point he’s gonna end up on a major league team here in the near future, so he should be okay,” said Ryan.
“We’re at the halfway point [in the season] today, ironically. We’ve tried, and he’s tried, it just didn’t work out,” he added. “As good as everything went last year, this year it didn’t quite work that way. We gotta make a decision.”
The benefactor in all this, obviously, is Rosario, who was called up and activated from Triple-A. His ability to control the zone, however, still remains a question, as does how much playing time he’ll get with Robbie Grossman, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler performing well in the outfield.
“Better. Yeah, he’s better,” said Ryan when asked if Rosario is controlling the strike zone.
“I don’t think he’s ever gonna be a huge walk guy, frankly. He’s gonna be a bad-ball hitter. Some of those he’s gonna have drop, and some of them are gonna be caught. He’s probably not gonna [have] a high-percentage of walks, but he was better.”
Rosario, through a translator, discussed what he worked on in Triple-A and what he expects from this stint in the majors:
There’s still moves to come. May eventually will have to be activated, and tough questions will be answered:
Will the team go with 12 pitchers or 13? (“The only reason we went to 13 is our starts were short,” said Ryan. “They were going to the bullpen in the fourth, fifth inning on too much of a regular basis.”)
Will May’s back problems persist? Will Rosario produce in the majors in spite of his tendency to swing at pitches outside of the strike zone? What happens to Grossman, who started the year strong, or Buxton, who is a wizard in the outfield but struggling at the plate?
“It’ll take care of itself, don’t worry about that,” said Ryan. “We can go a lot of different ways.”