When Alexander Colomé showed up to work on Tuesday, April 27, he sought out his pitching coach and had a list of things with him that he wanted to talk about and work on.
Pitching coach Wes Johnson wasn’t inclined to share what was on that list, but after a Tuesday bullpen session following a tough 5-3 loss a night before in which the reliever surrendered a two-run home run in the 10th inning to send the Minnesota Twins to a loss, Johnson walked away encouraged.
“I think his mind is back to being really clear and his stuff looked really good today in the ‘pen,” Johnson said. “I think we’re moving back into a good place with him. You wish it happens overnight, but it just doesn’t. It takes time.”
For the time being, the Twins will move Colomé out of the role he’s been in and into a spot where he’ll be placed in lower-leverage situations. While the Twins do not like to to name a “closer,” they have frequently used Colomé in save situations.
So far this year, the 32-year-old has blown three saves and has three losses to his name, starting on Opening Day in Milwaukee when he allowed three runs in the ninth inning in an eventual loss to the Brewers.
“He is going to pitch in some different spots. We could see him earlier in the game, potentially maybe when we’re up, but maybe when we’re down as well,” Baldelli said. “I think getting him out there and letting him get comfortable and finding himself right now is important and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Twins signed Colomé this offseason to steady the back of their bullpen. In his previous two seasons with the White Sox, Colomé had a 2.27 earned-run average and 42 saves across 83 1/3 innings pitched. In 2017 with the Rays, Colomé led the American League with 47 saves.
The Twins have confidence that Colomé still is that guy — and they’re not shy about telling him that.
“The message is real clear: ‘You’re really good. You’re Alex Colomé. You’re here to get good hitters out. You’re going to get good hitters out,’” Johnson said. “He’s just going through a rough patch. It’s always tough when you’re not playing well and the guy goes through a rough patch on top of that. He’s fine. He’s going to be fine.”
Three near return
Max Kepler and Kyle Garlick, who both tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, have been cleared to return to activity, paving the way for the two outfielders to return to the Twins soon.
Baldelli said the two were “on the cusp of starting to work their way back,” and they would be sent to CHS Field where they would able to go through a number of workouts before they rejoin the Twins. Baldelli said a rough timeline for the pair would be “hopefully end of the week.”
First baseman Miguel Sanó (hamstring) is also progressing toward a return. Baldelli said he had been running at close to 100 percent — or perhaps even at 100 percent — and they’ll have him facing pitching before his return. Sano was placed on the injured list on April 23, retroactive to April 21. He is eligible to return this weekend.
The Twins have a return trip to Anaheim on the schedule.
The club will head back to Anaheim on May 20 for a doubleheader beginning at 3:07 p.m. CT to make up the two games that had been postponed earlier this month during the Twins’ COVID-19 pause.
Both teams originally had scheduled off days for that date. With that now on the schedule, the Twins will be now be playing 17 games in 16 days. The Twins will travel to Anaheim after a three-game series at home against the White Sox. After the doubleheader, they will fly to Cleveland for a three-game series at Progressive Field.
Baldelli had said they had been eyeing a few potential mutual off days, including potentially the last day of the All-Star break, though that was an unpopular option within the clubhouse.
“We’ll make it work. There should be no complaints on our end,” Baldelli said Saturday. “It’s just something we have to go through.”
The Twins announced that tickets for home games between May 14-30 will be available for purchase to the general public on May 7 at noon. Fans who purchased tickets to home games during the first month of the season will be given presale access. … Wednesday afternoon’s Twins game will be broadcasted on YouTube.