CINCINNATI -- The Minnesota Twins have a new ninth-inning man — at least for the time being. And it’s a familiar one. The one they started the season with, actually.
With Hansel Robles now in Boston and Taylor Rogers on the injured list indefinitely with a finger sprain, the Twins will be turning to Alexander Colomé most frequently in save situations. Colomé started the season handling most of the closing duties for the Twins, but after a disastrous month of April in which he gave up 15 runs — 8 earned — in 8 2/3 innings, blew three saves and lost three games, the Twins removed him from the role.
Colomé has been pitching in lower-leverage situations since then — and to better results. Entering Wednesday, he had a 3.52 earned-run average since the beginning of May. That included a scoreless, though perhaps nerve-wracking, appearance on Tuesday in which he recorded his first save since April 7 in Detroit.
“Alex is going to get a fair number” of save opportunities, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, while noting that every other pitcher in the bullpen also could get opportunities to pitch in that role depending on recent usage, game situations and other factors.
Colomé is certainly the most experienced member of the Twins’ bullpen in late-game situations. In 2017, he led the majors with 47 saves. He recorded 42 combined saves the past two seasons with the White Sox, and when he signed with the Twins, it was expected that both Colomé and Rogers would see save opportunities.
“I did have a conversation with Alex about him being prepared to throw the ninth inning,” Baldelli said. “He’ll also be available to throw in some other situations, too. We may see him in the eighth, we may see him in the seventh at times. There will be days where he does need to get some work in and he could find himself pitching in different spots. But he will also be pitching and can have his mind in a place where he can prepare to throw the ninth inning as part of his duties.”
The Twins will open their 2022 season in Chicago and finish it in Detroit.
The Twins’ schedule for the upcoming season was released Wednesday, and it will kick off on March 31 at Guaranteed Rate Field against the White Sox. The Twins’ home opener will take place on April 7 against Seattle. The regular season wraps up on Oct. 2 at Comerica Park.
The Twins will host the Giants (on their first-ever trip to Target Field), Rockies and Dodgers, while traveling to play at the Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks in interleague play. The American League Central originally was supposed to play the National League West in 2020, but those games were scrapped in favor of a regionalized schedule last year.
The Twins and Tigers will have an extended all-star break, picking up again the Saturday following the game with a scheduled doubleheader in Detroit. The MLB all-star game has been moved back a week and will take place on July 19 at Dodger Stadium.
Also of note, weekday home night games throughout the season will begin at 6:40 p.m.
Josh Donaldson (hamstring) was out of the starting lineup again on Wednesday but did pinch hit in the Twins’ 6-5 loss to the Reds. Baldelli has said the Twins are targeting a start for him on Thursday, though they had not determined yet whether that would be in the field or as the team’s designated hitter. … The Twins claimed right-handed pitcher Ralph Garza Jr. off waivers from the Astros on Wednesday. He will go to St. Paul. Garza had a 4.09 ERA in nine games for the Astros this season. With his addition, the 40-man roster is now at 40.