Thursday, June 23, 2011

Expecting reinforcements

Even before the Twins took the field on Wednesday, it was made known that Joe Nathan and Jim Thome will rejoin the team Friday in Milwaukee.

Joe Nathan: Opened
as the closer, now not
even the best set-up
man in the bullpen.
Watching Ron Gardenhire reach into his bench for pinch-hitters Wednesday night and finding nobody with a 2011 batting average above .200 makes re-activating Thome, even without the DH rule in effect this weekend, a pretty easy call.

I would expect one of the catchers not named Joe Mauer to be shipped back to Rochester to make room for Thome. Assuming that Seth Stohs is correct in saying that Rene Rivera has an option left, it could be either; if the Twins have expose Rivera to waivers to send him out, Drew Butera should be the one sent down. Really, they're pretty interchangeable talents. (Rivera started Thursday's day-game-after-a-night game).

Nathan is another matter. He is said to have hit 93 on the radar guns in his rehab outings; I'm not impressed. We've heard inflated gun numbers from Triple A in the past. But he's getting $12 million plus; he's going to pitch if healthy.

I don't expect him to rank ahead of Matt Capps or Glen Perkins in the bullpen hierarchy, and I'm not sure he deserves to rank ahead of Alex Burnett right now either.

I would think Jim Hoey will be the demotee on this move. Anthony Swarzak has a well-defined role (long man) for which he is uniquely qualified among the current bullpenners, and I don't think Hoey has made himself more reliable in a leverage role than Phil Dumatrait.

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