Notebook: Twins designate starter P.J. Walters for assignment
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In an effort to make room for the return of Mike Pelfrey, the Minnesota Twins designated starter P.J. Walters for assignment Thursday after the Yankees sent them stumbling to their fifth consecutive loss.
Should Walters clear waivers, he would end up back in Rochester in the Red Wings' rotation.
This is the scenario the Twins are hoping for, as Walters provides some nice insurance for the rotation at Triple-A, and has at times flashed potential to be an effective starter in the major leagues.
For the second-straight season, Walters was summoned from Triple-A and pitched well initially. This year, Walters had a 3.23 ERA through five starts (spanning 30.2 innings).
But it went downhill quickly. Walters didn't make it out of the first inning at Cleveland, and from that time on -- through his final start against New York on Wednesday -- his ERA was 15.88 with a 1014 OPS against in three starts -- all losses.
Arcia bats third
With Josh Willingham out and Ryan Doumit in need of a little break after catching Wednesday night, manager Ron Gardenhire was forced to bunch up his lefties in the batting order Thursday against right-hander David Phelps.
It left an interesting match-up batting third: Oswaldo Arcia.
And while it may not be a permanent move, it also isn't the first time Arcia has batted third in the big leagues. He batted third in just his fifth big league game, in the nightcap of the doubleheader against the Marlins back on April 23.
For some reference, Joe Mauer didn't even hit third until his 23rd big league game, back on July 2, 2004 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Gardenhire obviously thinks enough of Arcia to have him bat third, and it could possibly become more common in the near future if he keeps swinging well.
"With Doumit not playing, I didn't want to put him out in right field after he caught nine innings last night," Gardenhire said. "I thought Arcia's a swinger, and he's not afraid to let it fly. He's not going to worry about where he's hitting. So put him out there, and let him whack."
Arcia's fear, or lack thereof, has been a recurring theme in chats with Gardenhire and general manager Terry Ryan. And it's been on display, as multiple pitchers, including recently-minted 200-game winner C.C. Sabathia, have brushed the at-times brash 22-year-old off the plate.
"Arcia makes his presence known," Gardenhire said. "Young kids, especially who swing it like that, will be noticed by pitchers. Sabathia's that kind of guy. It's going to happen."
Thielbar continues to deal
Caleb Thielbar is now up to 16 straight scoreless appearances -- 18.2 innings total -- to start his major league career. And while he did allow an inherited runner to score in Wednesday's game, Gardenhire has been impressed with the 26-year-old Randolph, Minn. native.
"He threw all of his pitches and went right at them," Gardenhire said of Thielbar's first Yankees experience. "I thought he threw the ball great. He hides the ball pretty good. He's going to see a few more of those (opportunities)."
With some key cogs in the bullpen scuffling, including eighth-inning setup man Jared Burton and top lefty Brian Duensing, it wouldn't be surprising to see Thielbar taking on some higher leverage innings as the summer wears on.
One one occasion Wednesday, Thielbar started a hitter out with consecutive 87 mph fastballs before reaching back for a little extra on a 91 mph offering to get the strikeout. Gardenhire said he's not too surprised.
"That's probably why he ended up in the big leagues," Gardenhire noted. "He can add and subtract to his pitches. If you know how to pitch a little bit -- and it looks like he does -- you get a chance."
• Voting for the 2014 All Star game closed late Thursday night. As of Monday, Joe Mauer had a nearly 1.2 million vote lead on Baltimore's Matt Wieters to be the starting catcher for the junior circuit.
No other Twin appears on the voting leaderboard at their respective position, although closer Glen Perkins has an outside shot. He has Gardenhire's vote, which the manager sent out early in the homestand.
"I wouldn't vote on these things if they said we couldn't vote on our own guys," Gardenhire said. "Because if they can't trust us enough about our own guys, I'm not interested."
• The old mounds were removed from the Metrodome on Wednesday. The last game in the stadium was between two amateur baseball teams from Wisconsin.
• With two home runs Thursday, Justin Morneau's slash-line is now up to .284/.338/.419. And while that's still a touch off last season's .267/.333/.400 pace, he's again trending upward as he plays out his contract which ends after this season.
Morneau figures to be a popular name as trade rumors start heating up with the deadline at the end of this month. It's still unclear if the Twins view him as a trade chip, a piece of the future, or perhaps something in between.