KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The last time Adalberto Mejia pitched in the majors, on June 30 at Wrigley Field, four players had to leave the game to receive intravenous fluids.
Temperatures rose to 96 degrees during the game with a heat index of 107, as Mejia was chased after just four innings and 79 pitches in a loss to the Chicago Cubs.
"Tough day to gauge somebody," Twins manager Paul Molitor said Saturday, July 21.
That won't be a problem on Monday in Toronto at the Rogers Centre, where the burly Dominican left-hander will be recalled to make his second start of the season. In his last start for Triple-A Rochester, Mejia, 25, gave up seven earned runs on eight hits and a walk in six innings on Tuesday against Louisville.
Mejia gave up a two-run homer in the first inning and four doubles overall, but he is still getting the nod after posting a 4.50 earned-run average in 21 big-league starts as a rookie last season.
"You hope he's a better version of what we saw the majority of last year, which means everything from trusting his catcher more to not trying to strike everybody out to not trying to make the perfect pitch all the time," Molitor said. "He's got pitches. We all know that."
Mejia's last cameo ended a stretch of 82 games without start by a Twins left-hander. He made his 21st and final start of 2017 on Sept. 27 in Cleveland. The division-leading Indians (193 games) entered Saturday with the longest active lefty-starter drought in the American League.
A day after Ervin Santana topped out at 90 mph with his fastball and pitched mostly at 89 mph for Triple-A Rochester, the Twins were still deciding how to proceed.
They could give the 35-year-old right-hander one more rehab start at Rochester, which would be his eighth overall since late May, or they bring him back to rejoin their rotation as soon as Wednesday in Toronto.
"A lot of emphasis was about velocity, probably too much so," Molitor said. "Command was the highlight - the strike-throwing, getting the ball where he wanted consistently."
Whether extra adrenaline would goose Santana's fastball north a few ticks upon his return remains to be seen.
"I think we have to realize that the whole idea of him being exactly the same as before the (finger) injury is probably not happening yet," Molitor said. "It probably won't in the short term."
Santana, whose 30-day rehab window expires on July 29, is due to throw a bullpen on Sunday.
Veteran reliever Matt Belisle, even with a scoreless inning on Friday, remained saddled with an 8.48 ERA through 14 outings since his return to the Twins on June 12.
With the need to make room for Mejia and fellow right-hander Addison Reed (elbow impingement) set to come off the DL early next week, Molitor was asked if he has seen encouraging signs from the 38-year-old Belisle.
"It's been an outing like (Friday) night where it looked pretty crisp, and then you've got a couple others where he's missed location and balls have gotten whacked around," Molitor said. "He's valuable in that I know there's versatility in when I can use him. I know I've got a guy I can at least rely on in terms of what he's going to bring."
Belisle, who has stranded 10 of 11 inherited runners for the Twins, has given up 12 of the 13 earned runs he has allowed for the Twins in just three outings, including a five-spot on July 14 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Nine of those earned runs came in the second game of back-to-back outings, which the Twins try to avoid with Belisle.
"He takes as good of care of himself as anybody out there," Molitor said. "You know he's going to be ready and take the ball whenever I ask him to."
- First baseman Logan Morrison (hip impingement) took part in batting practice and fielded grounders again Saturday as he prepared to be activated off the 10-day disabled list on Sunday.
- Utility man Taylor Motter arrived on Friday just as Twins batting practice ended after flying from Rochester, N.Y., with a change of planes in Atlanta. "I'll be platinum before you know it," he joked. "There are worse ways to get air miles."
- Miguel Sano batted third and played third base in his return to Rochester on Saturday.