MINNEAPOLIS — It’s hard to imagine Aaron Slegers’ debut with the Twins going a whole lot better. And yet, he’s headed back to the minor leagues.
Slegers was pitching for Minnesota in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday, as the allowed 26th man on the roster.
He left in the 7th inning, close to tears, with a lot of the sparse Target Field crowd standing to applaud his efforts. The rookie pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed 2 earned runs, with 2 walks, 3 strikeouts and one home run.
As the 26th man, he’s headed back to the minor leagues, but it may not be for long.
“He did a nice job of trusting himself. He threw a lot of strikes. To go as long as he did and pitch as effectively as he did, it was just a big boost for everybody,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Gained a lot of respect from a lot of people in that clubhouse tonight.”
Slegers mixed a fastball with a 2-seamer, plus a changeup and slider. He didn’t allow his second hit until the 7th inning, on what turned out to be his final hitter of the evening. The home run allowed to Jay Bruce was the most glaring mistake.
“I was surprised: Once the game started I was able to control the heart rate, control the emotions pretty well,” Slegers said. “It just about all spilled over when I came out of the game there in the 7th … I was about as close as you can [come to] crying without crying when I was walking off the mound and the crowd started standing up and applauding. That was a pretty special moment.”
By rule, Slegers was returned to the minor leagues after the start. He was serving as the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader. Slegers pitched better in the second game than Kyle Gibson did in the first game, and the Twins are in need of more starting pitchers in the short term.
Other roster moves Thursday…
-Slegers optioned after the game.
-Robbie Grossman to the 10-day disabled list.
-Buddy Boshers optioned to the minors.
-Nik Turley recalled from the minors as bullpen protection.
-Dietrich Enns to the disabled list.