Zulgad: When will Alex Meyer be back? Righty won't venture to guess
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Alex Meyer made what the Twins are hoping will be the first of many appearances on the Target Field pitching mound Sunday during the Futures Game.
If you blinked, or left your seat for a few minutes, you likely missed it.
Meyer, who is 5-4 with a 3.43 earned-run average in 18 starts at Triple-A Rochester, appeared in relief in the fifth inning of the U.S. team's 3-2 victory over the World squad and threw a grand total of four pitches.
On his first pitch of the inning, Gabby Guerrero hit a sharper liner to left field that was caught. Renato Nunez followed with a line-drive single to left, but Jorge Alfaro's ground ball to second base was turned into a double play and Meyer's day was done.
Among those who missed his performance was U.S. manager Tom Kelly, who came out of retirement for a day to work in the dugout. Kelly was planning some lineup changes and when he looked up the 6-foot-9, 220-pound righthander was trotting off the field.
"I asked if he did any sweating and he said no," Kelly said.
No one was complaining, although Meyer admitted he thought about trying to get Kelly to give him one more inning.
"I wanted to," said Meyer, who threw only six pitches in two-thirds of an inning in relief in the 2012 Futures Game in Kansas City. "I definitely wanted to go out there and just throw one curveball and then walk off. Get me out after that. But it was fun and I'll take that every single time."
Meyer, fellow pitcher Jose Berrios and slugging first baseman Kennys Vargas all got a glimpse of their futures on Sunday. Berrios and Vargas are at Double-A New Britain, meaning that Meyer is likely to reach the majors before those two.
"It's time to go back to work," said Meyer, who was acquired by the Twins from Washington for Denard Span in November 2012. "We go back to Rochester, we've got a good thing going down there. Hopefully get some more wins going and see what we can do."
As for Meyer's potential return to Target Field, he said he has no idea when he might be called up and appears to be trying not to concern himself with an issue that is out of his control.
"That's not for me to decide," he said. "I'm just taking everything a day at a time and (Twins general manager) Terry Ryan, that's up to him. Whenever he thinks I'm ready. Hopefully, whenever they need somebody, he keeps me in consideration. That's really the only thing I can worry about."
The Twins, rightfully so, have been extremely cautious with Meyer this season. He missed two months last year because of shoulder soreness and the Twins have been very strict with how many pitches the 24-year-old is allowed to throw per outing.
"It's been six innings or 85 pitches, whatever comes first," he said. "Last time our pitching coordinator was in town so I got to go a little bit longer, but I think (the decision to be careful) comes with the shoulder injury from last year.
"Getting sat down for a little bit. It's helping me be a little bit more efficient with my pitches, trying to attack hitters a little bit more to make sure I can pitch into that sixth inning. It is what it is. At times you feel like you're handcuffed. But at the same time it's something that I know they are looking out for me and it's beneficial for me. I just have to trust in them and go with whatever they say."
Meyer has pitched six innings in each of his past three starts and struck out 10 in his last outing. But before that, he had a three-start stretch where his longest outing was 3.2 innings.
Kelly, though, thinks Meyer is close to being ready to making the jump to the big leagues.
"From my understanding, and reading, I do a lot of reading, he needs to throw it over just a touch better," Kelly said. "He's got a few too many walks than you are comfortable with and his changeup is coming around. It's getting better.
"Once he tightens up the screws just a touch more -- (and) somebody else might have a different opinion, the ones that count -- he's getting very close and hopefully he keeps working. I'm sure he will. He's a good kid."