MINNEAPOLIS -- New Minnesota Twins reliever Sergio Romo was happy to be compared to Greg Maddux this week.
“It’s funny you should say that,” he said. “He was the guy I modeled myself on.”
Maddux was nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career when Romo first saw the right-hander use the natural movement on his pitches to paint corners and fool hitters. Never a flame thrower, Maddux was throwing a fastball around 85 mph when he was wrapping up a 23-year career yet still won 87 games over his final five seasons, from 2004-08.
On Tuesday, Romo struck out Chicago White Sox outfielder Tim Anderson on three pitches, all sliders, none hitting 80 mph.
“I had to learn to pitch because I never threw hard,” Romo said this week. “I always had respectable stuff, but I always had to pitch. That helps me now; I’m always thinking, always thinking ahead to the next pitch.”
Coached by his father, Frank, in Little League, Romo didn’t throw a breaking ball until he was 13 years old.
“It was a fastball, changing speeds and locating,” he said. “That’s how you build strength.”
A three-time World Series winner with San Francisco, Romo, 37, was acquired from Miami at the trade deadline to help the Twins clinch their first American League Central title since 2010. After Tuesday, he had three saves and six holds in 10 appearances for the Twins. Batters are hitting .139 against him, and he has fanned nine batters against one walk.
Asked how he would approach a plate appearance against Romo, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, “There is no approach.”
“People know what he’s going to do,” Baldelli said. “That’s the thing about being successful at anything in this league. After a period of time, you know what somebody’s going to do. If they can still go out there and do it, and do it well, that’s pretty special.”
Romo has been a valuable addition to a bullpen that has had, like most, its ups and downs. In his 10 appearances, the Twins are 8-2.
“He’s not here by mistake,” Baldelli said, “and he’s not getting all of his outs by mistake, I promise you.”
Eddie Rosario was pulled from Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the White Sox after the fifth inning and will be evaluated on Thursday’s off day.
“Rosie just tightened up during the game,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to get him looked at. We have luckily the off day coming up, and we should know more pretty soon. We don’t have a ton of information right now.”
The Twins’ RBI leader with 85, Rosario struck out, then reached on a fielder’s choice in the third inning but ran gingerly to first base, where he was safe because Tim Anderson’s relay throw was high.
“It wasn’t like an acute injury or anything that seems to be on the higher end of the serious scale, but even something moderately serious is still something that we’re going to spend some time on,” Baldelli said.
Byron Buxton ran and threw in the field Wednesday morning and is scheduled to take live batting practice at Target Field on Thursdsay. He’s been out since separating his left shoulder while catching a fly ball against the wall on Aug. 1 at Miami.
The Twins likely will send him on a rehab assignment before activating him.
“He’s been swinging, he’s been taking part in baseball activities, he looks good, he feels good, he’s got a smile on his face,” Baldelli said. “I think he’s in good shape.”