ARLINGTON, Texas — Michael Pineda’s stint on the Injured List came to an end Thursday, Aug. 15, and with it, the Twins shifted rookie Devin Smeltzer back to the bullpen. They plan to throw Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios and Martin Perez against the Rangers over the weekend.
“He could come in and face a couple of hitters,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Smeltzer. “He could also fill in in a length role. He can do that pretty well.”
Smeltzer made two starts in Pineda’s absence, throwing six scoreless innings while giving up just two hits against Kansas City and giving up six runs in 4 1/3 innings against Cleveland.
He has come out of the bullpen for a long relief stint twice this season, including an outing against the Rangers in which he gave up a single run in five innings.
“He can fill different roles. We feel comfortable with him and even (Lewis Thorpe) coming in. If we need them to come out of the bullpen, we’ve seen them do it,” Baldelli said. “They do a good job, they’ve handled it well. Like we know, it’s not always the easiest transition for anyone, especially a young pitcher, but they’ve done it very well. So we can use them at any point out of the bullpen and feel good about it. And then, if anything does happen and they have to fill in the rotation at any point, they can do that too.”
Randy Dobnak, another starter who was pitching out of the bullpen, was sent down to Triple-A Rochester. Dobnak appeared in one game, throwing four scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Astudillo starts rehab assignment
Willians Astudillo, the all-around utility player who has been on the injured list since late June with a left oblique strain, began a rehab assignment with Double-A Pensacola on Thursday. Astudillo homered in his first at-bat for the Blue Wahoos.
“He’ll go out there, he’ll get to swing a little bit and see some pitching, but I really do think the catching aspect of everything going on comes first,” Baldelli said. “Instead of sending him out there to play third and first and DH and playing the outfield and then worry about the catching, I think we’re just going to focus on the catching right off the bat.”
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, sidelined with a wrist injury, hit inside on Thursday and is expected to hit on the field during the series in Texas, potentially on Friday, Baldelli said. “He’s doing very well from the time he’s gone and seen the specialist and kind of gotten his directives,” Baldelli said. “He’s been fine. He’s been smiling a lot. He says he’s feeling good and he’s ready to go.”