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Twins reunite with former reliever Taylor Rogers in San Diego

The Twins traded the reliever to San Diego a day before the season started, receiving starter Chris Paddack, who has subsequently had Tommy John surgery, and reliever Emilio Págan in return.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Detroit Tigers
San Diego Padres relief pitcher Taylor Rogers (17) pitches in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on July 27, 2022.
Rick Osentoski / USA Today Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Taylor Rogers thought a trade could possibly come during spring training amid a flurry of activity as the Twins rebuilt their roster. But once he flew with his teammates to Minnesota to begin the season, the reliever figured he was in the clear.

Of course, that’s not how it ended up playing out.

The Twins traded the reliever to San Diego a day before the season started, receiving starter Chris Paddack, who has subsequently had Tommy John surgery, and reliever Emilio Págan in return.

“I never really got a chance to like, I don’t know if mourn is the right word, because it was literally I got on the bird and showed up in Arizona and it was Opening Day there, so you didn’t have time to think about anything cause you want to make sure to provide your mental task here,” Rogers said.

Rogers entered Friday’s game with 28 saves, tied for the National League lead with Milwaukee’s Josh Hader.

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But he has run into a rough patch in the past month, posting a 9.31 earned-run average in July, and manager Bob Melvin indicated to Padres reporters that they would give Rogers “a little bit of a break” from closing for the time being.

Even so, Rogers has appreciated the opportunity to be the Padres’ closer, a title he was never explicitly given in Minnesota despite holding down the role for parts of multiple seasons.

“It’s nice coming somewhere that somebody wanted you, so that was cool. I always wanted the opportunity to close. And so to have somewhere that wanted you — not that the Twins didn’t — but when they get rid of you, it means they didn’t want you anymore. Somebody did want you and they let you close, which I wasn’t allowed to do there, I was excited and I felt good.

The shocking trade sent him away from the only organization he had ever known — Rogers was drafted by the Twins in 2012 — away from friends and teammates he had built long-lasting relationships with. One, reliever Tyler Duffey, he said, will be a friend for life. Duffey and Rogers got dinner together on Thursday during their off day.

Rogers said he somewhat keeps tabs on his former teammates — particularly Duffey and Griffin Jax, who he threw with at home in Colorado during the offseason, and he was trying to approach the series against the Twins “like playing my brothers.”

“Beyond being an exceptional reliever, he’s a consummate professional. That’s what he is. He’s been that since the first day I met him,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “As good of a pitcher as you could hope to have on your staff and on your team. I have great memories of him. He has pitched in some of the biggest games that I’ve been a part of as a manager here with the Twins. We miss him.”

KEPLER UPDATE

Max Kepler went outside on Friday and ran at 50-60 percent, Baldelli said, but the Twins are still not sure if the outfielder will avoid the injured list. Kepler was hit by a pitch on his pinky toe on Sunday, suffering what Baldelli called a mildly displaced fracture. He has not appeared in a game since then, but hit on Friday before the game.

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“There are times where, sometimes just putting a guy on the IL sooner rather than later makes sense,” Baldelli said. “This might actually be one of those times where you’re kind of looking at it in an opposite way where you might want to keep giving him another day or two or three to see what kind of progress we can make.”

BRIEFLY

The Twins placed third baseman Gio Urshela on the paternity list ahead of Friday’s game and recalled Gilberto Celestino. Celestino had been optioned earlier in the week but remained with the Twins on the taxi squad in Milwaukee. Urshela will return to the Twins on Monday. … The Twins have not named a starter for Sunday, but Baldelli said they would like to give Dylan Bundy, who would be scheduled to start then, and Chris Archer an extra day of rest. If they do that, it would necessitate a roster move.

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