After job well done from Dereck Rodríguez, Twins turn to fresh arm, Ronny Henriquez
Rodríguez did cover the final 3⅔ innings of Saturday's marathon game, which the Twins wound up losing on a Jermaine Palacios error in the 15th inning.
CLEVELAND — Dereck Rodriguez got the call around 11:15 a.m. on Saturday morning: He was needed in Cleveland — immediately.
Just over an hour later, he was on a plane, taking off to meet the Twins in Ohio. Hours later, he was activated ahead of the second game of the Twins’ doubleheader to join the bullpen, and, after churning through five other relievers, the Twins turned the game over to Rodriguez.
“I was sitting there for five hours, and then that phone rang and nobody else was in the bullpen,” he said. “I knew the game was mine pretty much until it was over.”
Rodriguez did cover the final 3⅔ innings of the marathon game, which the Twins wound up losing on a Jermaine Palacios error in the 15th inning.
Rodriguez’s reward for a job well done? A trip back to Triple-A.
“D-Rod was awesome. Awesome. Without him, we’re not playing baseball for that long last night, and we’re not going to be able to stick around in that game,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s not easy to put up zeros when there’s runners starting on second base.”
Baldelli said Rodriguez, a starter who was originally scheduled to start for the Saints on Saturday, would have pitched indefinitely had the game continued on. And with the bullpen, Rodríguez now included, so taxed after the doubleheader, the Twins needed to bring in a fresh arm. That wound up being rookie Ronny Henriquez.
“On the human side looking across at a guy that just did what he did, you can tell him all of the incredible things that he just did and acknowledge those things,” Baldelli said of Rodriguez. “I think that’s not just worth doing — I think those things need to be said. But also there’s actually no alternative at this point and he understands that. I think he understands it probably as well as any player.”
Henriquez, 22, was part of the return from the Texas Rangers this March for catcher Mitch Garver. The Twins’ No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline has spent the entirety of this season at Triple-A St. Paul, recording a 5.66 earned-run average across 95⅓ innings.
Henriquez has been used both as a starter and as a multi-inning reliever this year with St. Paul.
“He’s made a lot of nice moves at Triple-A,” Baldelli said. “I think he’s a significantly better pitcher with a lot of different tools to look at now than where he was at the beginning of the year. … I could see a lot of scenarios where he does actually get out there, and he’s out there pitching for us in spots that could be important spots.”
Henriquez, who did not get into Sunday’s game against the Guardians, said he was packing for the Saints’ next road trip to Indianapolis when he got the call from Triple-A manager Toby Gardenhire that he’d be joining the Twins.
“He asked me if I was ready to pitch and I said, ‘Yeah.’ And he was like, ‘You’re pitching in the big leagues tomorrow,’” Henriquez said. “And I was in shock.”
While starting pitcher Louie Varland was officially returned to Triple-A after serving as the 29th man on Sunday, Baldelli said their plan was to have him remain with them on the road trip right now as a member of a taxi squad. “We’re going to let him stay on a routine here with us right now and we’ll see what happens.” … The San Francisco Giants claimed reliever Jharel Cotton off of waivers. The Twins had designated the reliever, who had a 2.83 earned-run average in 25 games, for assignment four separate times this season.
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