TORONTO — It looked as if José Berríos was going to miss the chance to start against his former teammates this time around, and he would’ve preferred it that way.
“It’s bad. I don’t want to. I don’t want to,” Berríos said. “They used to be my guys, but now, they’re in a different dugout and team. That’s what it is.”
But Berrios warmed to the idea quickly, joking that he’d like to face Willians Astudillo. He might get that chance. At the very least, he’ll face plenty of his other former teammates when he takes the mound for the Blue Jays on Sunday against the team that drafted and developed him.
Berríos has been a member of the Blue Jays for nearly two months. It took him the first month to get settled with housing and adjusting to new teammates and a new country. But things are getting easier for him now, he said.
And, he’s pitching in the middle of a postseason race, which certainly helps.
“It’s special. Obviously, the postseason, that’s what every player wants,” Berríos said. “But I’d been having fun with the (Minnesota) group. … I had people that I met in 2012 and knew through this year. But here, they have a lot of fun, too, so they made it easier for me to get here and try to get used to it. … I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
There has been plenty for him to enjoy between his own personal success — in nine starts, Berríos has posted a 3.31 earned-run average with the Blue Jays — and his new team’s success — the Blue Jays entered Friday in position to win a Wild Card.
With Berríos now lined up to start on Sunday, his next two starts are now likely to come against his former team, as the Blue Jays travel to Minnesota next weekend. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who had a chance to catch up with Berríos before the series opener, said he thought Sunday was going to be fun and that he was glad the Twins would have a chance to face their former ace.
“I think he misses everybody, but I do think that he’s adjusting well to being in Toronto. I think he’s enjoying his teammates and playing playoff competitive baseball at the end of September,” Baldelli said. “He’s a competitive guy, and there’s nothing better than being able to go out there and help pitch his team into October and that’s what he’s all about.”
While Berríos said he once thought he was going to be a Twin for life, he said he understands the business decision the Twins made, swapping the pitcher, who is a free agent at next season’s end, for a pair of prospects ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.
“I respect and I’ve got my heart with all the people … that Minnesota gave me,” he said.
SIMMONS STAYS BACK
Starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons was placed on the restricted list on Friday, unable to join the Twins in Toronto. Simmons, who hails from Curacao, is in the process of applying for his permanent residency card in the United States.
“Along with that comes a lot of different paperwork and stuff, restrictions, and that’s why he’s not going to be available for the series,” Baldelli said. “Apparently, there was not much we could to do get around this. Obviously, some energy was spent trying to avoid it but we couldn’t avoid it so he’ll be down for three days.”
Simmons will rejoin the team in Chicago when the Twins head there next to take on the Cubs. In his place, Jorge Polanco started at shortstop on Friday and Baldelli said Nick Gordon would likely play there for a game or possibly two.
Catcher Mitch Garver (back) began a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Saints in Indianapolis on Friday. … The Twins reinstated Brent Rooker from the paternity list and optioned pitcher Andrew Albers. They also selected reliever Nick Vincent’s contract. … The Twins have not named a starter for Sunday, but Baldelli said it could possibly be a bullpen day. The Twins also have Charlie Barnes with them in Toronto on the taxi squad, who could potentially be an option. … Infielder Drew Maggi also traveled with the team on the taxi squad. … Baldelli said the Twins were not concerned about Joe Ryan, who was hit in the wrist with a pitch by a batted ball during his last start. He suggested Ryan’s next start might come on Wednesday in Chicago.