Michael Tonkin will be stretched out to be a long reliever— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) March 30, 2016
I'm not sure this is a particularly good fit for Tonkin's specific skill set, but
- there are no short relief jobs available
- there is no obvious long man among the seven bullpenners and
- he's low man on the totem pole, so he gets the scut work until he proves he deserves a more pivotal role.
My guess, to be blunt, is that he'll be waived before the end of April. Or DL'd if it turns out he can't physically handle going through the entire order.
Tonkin has been up-and-down with the Twins for three years, with five separate callups in 2015 alone. My theory on why the Twins have been so reluctant to give Tonkin a real opportunity in the majors: He's as awkward as I've seen in pitchers fielding practice in spring training.
That sounds minor, but managers and pitching coaches will (and should) always be wary of the guys who beat themselves. Tonkin is a tall (6-7) guy who, in my scattered viewing of PFP over years, tends to muff bunts and throw balls into the dirt when throwing to bases. Managers know they're going to lose some games, but they particularly hate to lose them because a pitcher threw a ball down the right field line with two on in the eighth inning. Paul Molitor (and Ron Gardenhire before him) watches the PFPs pretty intently; if Tonkin messes up two plays a day, that's going to stick with them.